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A SET OF SIX 



BOOKS BY JOSEPH CONRAD 



ALMAYER'S FOLLY 

AN OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS 

THE NIGGER OF THE "NARCISSUS" 

TALES OF UNREST 

LORD JIM: A ROMANCE 

YOUTH: A NARRATIVE 

TYPHOON 

FALK, AND OTHER STORIES 

NOSTROMO: A TALE OF THE SEABOARD 

THE MIRROR OF THE SEA 

THE SECRET AGENT 

A SET OF SIX 

UNDER WESTERN EYES 

A PERSONAL RECORD 

'TWIXT LAIHD AND SEA 

CHANCE 

WITHIN THE TIDES 

VICTORY 

THE SHADOW-LINE 

THE ARROW OF GOLD 

THE RESCUE 

NOTES ON LIFE AND LETTERS 

THE ROVER 

WITH FORD M. HUEFFER 

ROMANCE: A NOVEL 

THE INHERITORS: AN EXTRAVAGANT 

STORY 
THE NATURE OF A CRIME 



A SET OF SIX 



BY 
JOSEPH CONRAD 




Les petites marionnettes 

Font, font, font, 
Trois petits tours 

Et puis s'en vont. 

NURSERY RHYME 



PUBLISHED BY 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 

FOR 

WM. H. WISE & CO. 

NEW YORK 

1924 



COPYRIGHT, 1908, 1915, 1911, BY 
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

COFTBIGHT, 1906, 1907, 1908, BY JOSEPH CONBAD 
PRINTED IN THE UNITE!) STATES 

AT 
THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y. 



TO 
MISS M. H. M. CAPES 



AUTHOR'S NOTE 

THE six stories in this volume are the result of some 
three or four years of occasional work. The dates of 
their writing are far apart, their origins are various. 
None of them are connected directly with personal ex- 
periences. In all of them the facts are inherently 
true, by which I mean that they are not only possible 
but that they have actually happened. For instance, 
the last story in the volume, the one I call Pathetic, 
whose first title is II Conde (misspelt by-the-by) is an 
almost verbatim transcript of the tale told me by a very 
charming old gentleman whom I met in Italy. I don't 
mean to say it is only that. Anybody can see that it is 
something more than a verbatim report, but where he 
left off and where I began must be left to the acute dis- 
crimination of the reader wlio may be interested in the 
problem. I don't mean to say that the problem is 
worth the trouble. What I am certain of, however, 
is that it is not to be solved, for I am not at all clear 
about it myself by this time. All I can say is that the 
personality of the narrator was extremely suggestive 
quite apart from the story he was telling me. I heard 
a few years ago that he had died far away from his be- 
loved Naples where that "abominable adventure" did 
really happen to him. 

Thus the genealogy of II Conde is simple. It is 
not the case with the other stories. Various strains 
contributed to their composition, and the nature of 
many of those I have forgotten, not having the habit of 
making notes either before or after the fact. I mean 

vii 



viii AUTHOR'S NOTE 

the fact of writing a story. What I remember best 
about Gaspar Ruiz is that it was written, or at any rate 
begun, within a month of finishing Nostromo; but 
apart from the locality, and that a pretty wide one (all 
the South American Continent), the novel and the 
story have nothing in common, neither mood, nor in- 
tention and, certainly, not the style. The manner for 
the most part is that of General Santierra, and that 
old warrior, I note with satisfaction, is very true to 
himself all through. Looking now dispassionately at 
the various ways in which this story could have been 
presented I can't honestly think the General super- 
fluous. It is he, an old man talking of the days of his 
youth, who characterizes the whole narrative and 
gives it an air of actuality which I doubt whether I 
could have achieved without his help. In the mere 
writing his existence of course was of no help at all, 
because the whole thing had to be carefully kept within 
the frame of his simple mind. But all this is but a 
laborious searching of memories. My present feeling 
is that the story could not have been told otherwise. 
The hint for Gaspar Ruiz the man I found in a book 
by Captain Basil Hall, R.N., who was for some time, 
between the years 1824 and 1828, senior officer of a 
small British Squadron on the West Coast of South 
America. His book published in the thirties obtained a 
certain celebrity and I suppose is to be found still in 
some libraries. The curious who may be mistrusting 
my imagination are referred to that printed document, 
Vol. II, I forget the page, but it is somewhere not far 
from the end. Another document connected with this 
story is a letter of a biting and ironic kind from a friend 
then in Burma, passing certain strictures upon "the 
gentleman with the gun on his back" which I do not 
intend to make accessible to the public. Yet the gun 



AUTHOR'S NOTE ix 

episode did really happen, or at least I am bound to 
believe it because I remember it, described in an ex- 
tremely matter-of-fact tone, in some book I read in my 
boyhood; and I am not going to discard the beliefs of 
my boyhood for anybody on earth. 

The Brute, which is the only sea-story in the volume, 
is, like II Conde, associated with a direct narrative and 
based on a suggestion gathered on warm human lips. 
I will not disclose the real name of the criminal ship 
but the first I heard of her homicidal habits was from 
the late Captain Blake, commanding a London ship 
in which I served in 1884 as Second Officer. Captain 
Blake was, of all my commanders, the one I remember 
with the greatest affection. I have sketched in his 
personality, without however mentioning his name, 
in the first paper of The Mirror of the Sea. In his 
young days he had had a personal experience of the 
brute and it is perhaps for that reason that I have put 
the story into the mouth of a young man and made of it 
what the reader will see. The existence of the brute 
was a fact. The end of the brute as related in the story 
is also a fact, well-known at the time though it really 
happened to another ship, of great beauty of form and 
of blameless character, which certainly deserved a 
better fate. I have unscrupulously adapted it to the 
needs of my story thinking that I had there something 
in the nature of poetical justice. I hope that little 
villainy will not cast a shadow upon the general honesty 
of my proceedings as a writer of tales. 

Of The Informer and An Anarchist I will say next] 
to nothing. The pedigree of these tales is hopelessly 
complicated and not worth disentangling at this dis- 
tance of time. I found them and here they are. The 
discriminating reader will guess that I have found them 
within my mind; but how they or their elements came 



x AUTHOR'S NOTE 

in there I have forgotten for the most part; and for the 
rest I really don't see why I should give myself away 
more than I have done already. 

It remains for me only now to mention The Duel, the 
longest story in the book. That story attained the 
dignity of publication all by itself in a small illustrated 
volume, under the title, "The Point of Honour." That 
was many years ago. It has been since reinstated in 
its proper place, which is the place it occupies in this 
volume, in all the subsequent editions of my work. 
Its pedigree is extremely simple. It springs from a 
ten-line paragraph in a small provincial paper published 
in the South of France. That paragraph, occasioned 
by a duel with a fatal ending between two well-known 
Parisian personalities, referred for some reason or other 
to the "well-known fact" of two officers in Napoleon's 
Grand Army having fought a series of duels in the 
midst of great wars and on some futile pretext. The 
pretext was never disclosed. I had therefore to invent 
it; and I think that, given the character of the two offi- 
cers which I had to invent, too, I have made it suffi- 
ciently convincing by the mere force of its absurdity. 
The truth is that in my mind the story is nothing but a 
serious and even earnest attempt at a bit of historical 
fiction. I had heard in my boyhood a good deal of the 
great Napoleonic legend. I had a genuine feeling that 
I would find myself at home in it, and The Duel is the 
result of that feeling, or, if the reader prefers, of that 
presumption. Personally I have no qualms of con- 
science about this piece of work. The story might 
have been better told of course. All one's work might 
have been better done; but this is the sort of reflection 
a worker must put aside courageously if he doesn't 
mean every one of his conceptions to remain for ever a 
private vision, an evanescent reverie. How many of 



AUTHOR'S NOTE xi 

those visions have I seen vanish in my time! This one, 
however, has remained, a testimony, if you like, to my 
courage or a proof of my rashness. What I care to re- 
member best is the testimony of some French readers 
who volunteered the opinion that in those hundred 
pages or so I had managed to render "wonderfully" 
the spirit of the whole epoch. Exaggeration of kind- 
ness no doubt; but even so I hug it still to my breast, 
because in truth that is exactly what I was trying to cap- 
ture in my small net: the Spirit of the Epoch never 
purely militarist in the long clash of arms, youthful, 
almost childlike in its exaltation of sentiment naively 
heroic in its faith. 

1920. J. C. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

GASPABRUIZ 3 

THE INFOEMER 73 

THE BRUTE 105 

AN ANARCHIST 135 

THE DUEL 165 

IL CONDE 269 



A SET OF SIX 



A SET OF SIX 

CASPAR RUIZ 



A REVOLUTIONARY war raises many strange charac- 
ters out of the obscurity which is the common lot of 
humble lives in an undisturbed state of society. 

Certain individualities grow into fame through their 
vices and their virtues, or simply by their actions, which 
may have a temporary importance; and then they 
become forgotten. The names of a few leaders alone 
survive the end of armed strife and are further pre- 
served in history; so that, vanishing from men's active 
memories, they still exist in books. 

The name of General Santierra attained that cold 
paper-and-ink immortality. He was a South American 
of good family, and the books published in his lifetime 
numbered him amongst the liberators of that continent 
from the oppressive rule of Spain. 

That long contest, waged for independence on one 
side and for dominion on the other, developed in the 
course of years and the vicissitudes of changing fortune 
the fierceness and inhumanity of a struggle for life. All 
feelings of pity and compassion disappeared in the 
growth of political hatred. And, as is usual in war, the 
mass of the people, who had the least to gain by the 
issue, suffered most in their obscure persons and their 
humble fortunes. 



4 CASPAR RUIZ 

General Santierra began his service as lieutenant in 
the patriot army raised and commanded by the famous 
San Martin, afterwards conqueror of Lima and liberator 
of Peru. A great battle had just been fought on the 
banks of the river Bio-Bio. Amongst the prisoners 
made upon the routed Royalist troops there was a 
soldier called Gaspar Ruiz. His powerful build and his 
big head rendered him remarkable amongst his fellow- 
captives. The personality of the man was unmistak- 
able. Some months before he had been missed from 
the ranks of Republican troops after one of the many 
skirmishes which preceded the great battle. And now, 
having been captured arms in hand amongst Royalists, 
he could expect no other fate but to be shot as a deserter. 

Gaspar Ruiz, however, was not a deserter; his mind 
was hardly active enough to take a discriminating view 
of the advantages or perils of treachery. Why should 
he change sides? He had really been made a prisoner, 
had suffered ill-usage and many privations. Neither 
side showed tenderness to its adversaries. There came 
a day when he was ordered, together with some other 
captured rebels, to march in the front rank of the Royal 
troops. A musket had been thrust into his hands. 
He had taken it. He had marched. He did not want 
to be killed with circumstances of peculiar atrocity for 
refusing to march. He did not understand heroism 
but it was his intention to throw his musket away at 
the first opportunity. Meantime he had gone on load- 
ing and firing, from fear of having his brains blown out 
at the first sign of unwillingness, by some non- 
commissioned officer of the King of Spain. He tried to 
set forth these elementary considerations before the 
sergeant of the guard set over him and some twenty 
other such deserters, who had been condemned sum- 
marily to be shot. 



GASPAR RUIZ 5 

It was in the quadrangle of the fort at the back of 
the batteries which command the roadstead of Val- 
paraiso. The officer who had identified him had gone 
on without listening to his protestations. His doom 
was sealed; his hands were tied very tightly together 
behind his back; his body was sore all over from the 
many blows with sticks and butts of muskets which had 
hurried him along on the painful road from the place of 
his capture to the gate of the fort. This was the only 
kind of systematic attention the prisoners had received 
from their escort during a four days' journey across a 
scantily watered tract of country. At the crossings of 
rare streams they were permitted to quench their thirst 
by lapping hurriedly like dogs. In the evening a few 
scraps of meat were thrown amongst them as they 
dropped down dead-beat upon the stony ground of the 
halting-place. 

As he stood in the courtyard of the castle in the 
early morning, after having been driven hard all night, 
Gaspar Ruiz's throat was parched, and his tongue felt 
very large and dry in his mouth. 

And Gaspar Ruiz, besides being very thirsty, was 
stirred by a feeling of sluggish anger, which he could 
not very well express, as though the vigour of his spirit 
were by no means equal to the strength of his body. 

The other prisoners in the batch of the condemned 
hung their heads, looking obstinately on the ground. 
But Gaspar Ruiz kept on repeating: "What should I 
desert for to the Royalists? Why should I desert? 
Tell me, Estaban!" 

He addressed himself to the sergeant, who happened 
to belong to the same part of the country as himself. 
But the sergeant, after shrugging his meagre shoulders 
once, paid no further attention to the deep murmuring 
voice at his back. It was indeed strange that Gaspar 



6 CASPAR RUIZ 

Ruiz should desert. His people were in too humble 
a station to feel much the disadvantages of any form 
of government. There was no reason why Gaspar Ruiz 
should wish to uphold in his own person the rule of 
the King of Spain. Neither had he been anxious to 
exert himself for its subversion. He had joined the 
side of Independence in an extremely reasonable and 
natural manner. A band of patriots appeared one 
morning early, surrounding his father's ranche, spearing 
the watch-dogs and hamstringing a fat cow all in the 
twinkling of an eye, to the cries of "Viva la Libertad /" 
Their officer discoursed of Liberty with enthusiasm and 
eloquence after a long and refreshing sleep. When 
they left in the evening, taking with them some of 
Ruiz, the father's, best horses to replace their own 
lamed animals, Gaspar Ruiz went away with them, 
having been invited pressingly to do so by the eloquent 
officer. 

Shortly afterwards a detachment of Royalist troops 
coming to pacify the district, burnt the ranche, carried 
off the remaining horses and cattle, and having thus 
deprived the old people of all their worldly possessions, 
left them sitting under a bush in the enjoyment of the 
inestimable boon of life. 

II 

GASPAR Ruiz, condemned to death as a deserter, 
was not thinking either of his native place or of his 
parents, to whom he had been a good son on account 
of the mildness of his character and the great strength 
of his limbs. The practical advantage of this last 
was made still more valuable to his father by his 
obedient disposition. Gaspar Ruiz had an acquiescent 
soul. 



CASPAR RUIZ 7 

But it was stirred now to a sort of dim revolt by 
his dislike to die the death of a traitor. He was not a 
traitor. He said again to the sergeant: "You know 
I did not desert, Estaban. You know I remained 
behind amongst the trees with three others to keep 
the enemy back while the detachment was running 
away!" 

Lieutenant Santierra, little more than a boy at the 
time, and unused as yet to the sanguinary imbecilities 
of a state of war, had lingered near by, as if fascinated 
by the sight of these men who were to be shot pres- 
ently "for an example" as the Oommandante had 
said. 

The sergeant, without deigning to look at the 
prisoner, addressed himself to the young officer with 
a superior smile. 

"Ten men would not have been enough to make 
him a prisoner, mi teniente. Moreover, the other three 
rejoined the detachment after dark. Why should he, 
unwounded and the strongest of them all, have failed to 
do so?" 

"My strength is as nothing against a mounted man 
with a lasso," Gaspar Ruiz protested, eagerly. "He 
dragged me behind his horse for half a mile." 

At this excellent reason the sergeant only laughed 
contemptuously. The young officer hurried away after 
the Commandanle. 

Presently the adjutant of the castle came by. He 
was a truculent, raw-boned man in a ragged uniform. 
His spluttering voice issued out of a flat yellow face. 
The sergeant learned from him that the condemned 
men would not be shot till sunset. He begged then 
to know what he was to do with them meantime. 

The adjutant looked savagely round the courtyard 
and, pointing to the door of a small dungeon-like 



8 CASPAR RUIZ 

guardroom, receiving light and air through one heavily 
barred window, said: "Drive the scoundrels in there/' 

The sergeant, tightening his grip upon the stick he 
carried in virtue of his rank, executed this order with 
alacrity and zeal. He hit Gaspar Ruiz, whose move- 
ments were slow, over his head and shoulders. Gaspar 
Ruiz stood still for a moment under the shower of 
blows, biting his lip thoughtfully as if absorbed by a 
perplexing mental process then followed the others 
without haste. The door was locked, and the adjutant 
carried off the key. 

By noon the heat of that vaulted place crammed 
to suffocation had become unbearable. The prisoners 
crowded towards the window, begging their guards for 
a drop of water; but the soldiers remained lying in 
indolent attitudes wherever there was a little shade 
under a wall, while the sentry sat with his back against 
the door smoking a cigarette, and raising his eyebrows 
philosophically from time to time. Gaspar Ruiz had 
pushed his way to the window with irresistible force. 
His capacious chest needed more air than the others; 
his big face, resting with its chin on the ledge, pressed 
close to the bars, seemed to support the other faces 
crowding up for breath. From moaned entreaties they 
had passed to desperate cries, and the tumultuous howl- 
ing of those thirsty men obliged a young officer who 
was just then crossing the courtyard to shout in order 
to make himself heard. 

"Why don't you give some water to these prisoners?" 

The sergeant, with an air of surprised innocence, 
excused himself by the remark that all those men were 
condemned to die in a very few hours. 

Lieutenant Santierra stamped his foot. "They are 
condemned to death, not to torture," he shouted, 
"Give them some water at once." 



CASPAR RUIZ 9 

Impressed by this appearance of anger, the soldiers 
bestirred themselves, and the sentry, snatching up his 
musket, stood to attention. 

But when a couple of buckets were found and filled 
from the well, it was discovered that they could not be 
passed through the bars, which were set too close. At 
the prospect of quenching their thirst, the shrieks of 
those trampled down in the struggle to get near the 
opening became very heartrending. But when the 
soldiers who had lifted the buckets towards the window 
put them to the ground again helplessly, the yell of dis- 
appointment was still more terrible. 

The soldiers of the army of Independence were not 
equipped with canteens. A small tin cup was found, 
but its approach to the opening caused such a com- 
motion, such yells of rage and pain in the vague mass 
of limbs behind the straining faces at the window, that 
Lieutenant Santierra cried out hurriedly, "No, no you 
must open the door, sergeant." 

The sergeant, shrugging his shoulders, explained 
that he had no right to open the door even if he had 
had the key. But he had not the key. The adjutant 
of the garrison kept the key. Those men were giving 
much unnecessary trouble, since they had to die at sun- 
set in any case. Why they had not been shot at. once 
early in the morning he could not understand. 

Lieutenant Santierra kept his back studiously to the 
window. It was at his earnest solicitations that the 
Commandante had delayed the execution. This favour 
had been granted to him in consideration of his dis- 
tinguished family and of his father's high position 
amongst the chiefs of the Republican party. Lieutenant 
Santierra believed that the General commanding would 
visit the fort some time in the afternoon, and he ingenu- 
ously hoped that his naive intercession would induce 



10 CASPAR RUIZ 

that severe man to pardon some, at least, of those crim- 
inals. In the revulsion of his feeling his interference 
stood revealed now as guilty and futile meddling. It ap- 
peared to him obvious that the general would never even 
consent to listen to his petition. He could never save 
those men, and he had only made himself responsible for 
the sufferings added to the cruelty of their fate. 

"Then go at once and get the key from the adjutant," 
said Lieutenant Santierra. 

The sergeant shook his head with a sort of bashful 
smile, while his eyes glanced sideways at Caspar Ruiz's 
face, motionless and silent, staring through the bars at 
the bottom of a heap of other haggard, distorted, yelling 
faces. 

His worship the adjutant de Plaza, the sergeant 
murmured, was having his siesta; and supposing that 
he, the sergeant, would be allowed access to him, the 
only result he expected would be to have his soul 
flogged out of his body for presuming to disturb his 
worship's repose. He made a deprecatory movement 
with his hands, and stood stock-still, looking down 
modestly upon his brown toes. 

Lieutenant Santierra glared with indignation, but 
hesitated. His handsome oval face, as smooth as a 
girl's, flushed with the shame of his perplexity. Its 
nature humiliated his spirit. His hairless upper lip 
trembled; he seemed on the point of either bursting 
into a fit of rage or into tears of dismay. 

Fifty years later, General Santierra, the venerable 
relic of revolutionary times, was well able to remem- 
ber the feelings of the young lieutenant. Since he 
had given up riding altogether, and found it difficult 
to walk beyond the limits of his garden, the general's 
greatest delight was to entertain in his house the 
officers of the foreign men-of-war visiting the harbour. 



CASPAR RUIZ 11 

For Englishmen he had a preference, as for old com- 
panions in arms. English naval men of all ranks 
accepted his hospitality with curiosity, because he had 
known Lord Cochrane and had taken part, on board the 
patriot squadron commanded by that marvellous sea- 
man, in the cutting out and blockading operations be- 
fore Callao an episode of unalloyed glory in the wars 
of Independence and of endless honour in the fighting 
tradition of Englishmen. He was a fair linguist, this 
ancient survivor of the Liberating armies. A trick of 
smoothing his long white beard whenever he was short 
of a word in French or English imparted an air of 
leisurely dignity to the tone of his reminiscences. 

Ill 

"YES, my friends," he used to say to his guests, 
"what would you have? A youth of seventeen sum- 
mers, without worldly experience, and owing my 
rank only to the glorious patriotism of my father, may 
God rest his soul. I suffered immense humiliation, 
not so much from the disobedience of that subordinate, 
who, after all, was responsible for those prisoners; but 
I suffered because, like the boy I was, I myself dreaded 
going to the adjutant for the key. I had felt, before, 
his rough and cutting tongue. Being quite a common 
fellow, with no merit except his savage valour, he made 
me feel his contempt and dislike from the first day I 
joined my battalion in garrison at the fort. It was only 
a fortnight before ! I would have confronted him sword 
in hand, but I shrank from the mocking brutality of his 
sneers. 

"I don't remember having been so miserable in my 
life before or since. The torment of my sensibility 
was so great that I wished the sergeant to fall dead at 



12 CASPAR RUIZ 

my feet, and the stupid soldiers who stared at me to 
turn into corpses; and even those wretches for whom 
my entreaties had procured a reprieve I wished dead 
also, because I could not face them without shame. A 
mephitic heat like a whiff of air from hell came out of 
that dark place in which they were confined. Those at 
the window who had heard what was going on jeered at 
me in very desperation : one of these fellows, gone mad 
no doubt, kept on urging me volubly to order the soldiers 
to fire through the window. His insane loquacity made 
my heart turn faint. And my feet were like lead. There 
was no higher officer to whom I could appeal. I had 
not even the firmness of spirit to simply go away. 

"Benumbed by my remorse, I stood with my back 
to the window. You must not suppose that all this 
lasted a long time. How long could it have been? A 
minute? If you measured by mental suffering it was 
like a hundred years; a longer time than all my life has 
been since. No, certainly, it was not so much as a 
minute. The hoarse screaming of those miserable 
wretches died out in their dry throats, and then sud- 
denly a voice spoke, a deep voice muttering calmly. 
It called upon me to turn round. 

"That voice, senores, proceeded from the head of 
Gaspar Ruiz. Of his body I could see nothing. Some 
of his fellow-captives had clambered upon his back. 
He was holding them up. His eyes blinked without 
looking at me. That and the moving of his lips was 
all he seemed able to manage in his overloaded state. 
And when I turned round, this head, that seemed more 
than human size resting on its chin under a multitude 
of other heads, asked me whether I really desired to 
quench the thirst of the captives. 

"I said, 'Yes, yes!' eagerly, and came up quite 
close to the window. I was like a child, and did not 



CASPAR RUIZ 13 

know what would happen. I was anxious to be com- 
forted in my helplessness and remorse. 

"'Have you the authority, Senor leniente, to re- 
lease my wrists from their bonds?' Caspar Ruiz's 
head asked me. 

"His features expressed no anxiety, no hope; his 
heavy eyelids blinked upon his eyes that looked past 
me straight into the courtyard. 

"As if in an ugly dream, I spoke, stammering: 
'What do you mean? And how can I reach the bonds 
on your wrists?' 

"'I will try what I can do,' he said; and then that 
large staring head moved at last, and all the wild faces 
piled up in that window disappeared, tumbling down. 
He had shaken his load off with one movement, so 
strong he was. 

"And he had not only shaken it off, but he got free 
of the crush and vanished from my sight. For a 
moment there was no one at all to be seen at the 
window. He had swung about, butting and shoulder- 
ing, clearing a space for himself in the only way he could 
do it with his hands tied behind his back. 

"Finally, backing to the opening, he pushed out to 
me between the bars his wrists, lashed with many turns 
of rope. His hands, very swollen, with knotted veins, 
looked enormous and unwieldy. I saw his bent back. 
It was very broad. His voice was like the muttering 
of a bull. 

"'Cut, Senor teniente. Cut!' 

"I drew my sword, my new unblunted sword that 
had seen no service as yet, and severed the many turns 
of the hide rope. I did this without knowing the why 
and the wherefore of my action, but as it were com- 
pelled by my faith in that man. The sergeant made as 
if to cry out, but astonishment deprived him of his 



14 CASPAR RUIZ 

voice, and he remained standing with his mouth open 
as if overtaken by sudden imbecility. 

"I sheathed my sword and faced the soldiers. An 
air of awestruck expectation had replaced their usual list- 
less apathy. I heard the voice of Gaspar Ruiz shouting 
inside, but the words I could not make out plainly. I 
suppose that to see him with his arms free augmented 
the influence of his strength : I mean by this, the spiritual 
influence that with ignorant people attaches to an excep- 
tional degree of bodily vigour. In fact, he was no more 
to be feared than before, on account of the numbness of 
his arms and hands, which lasted for some time. 

"The sergeant had recovered his power of speech. 
*By all the saints!' he cried, 'we shall have to get a 
cavalry man with a lasso to secure him again, if he is 
to be led to the place of execution. Nothing less than 
a good enlazador on a good horse can subdue him. 
Your worship was pleased to perform a very mad thing/ 

"I had nothing to say. I was surprised myself, 
and I felt a childish curiosity to see what would hap- 
pen next. But the sergeant was thinking of the diffi- 
culty of controlling Gaspar Ruiz when the time for 
making an example would come. 

"'Or perhaps/ the sergeant pursued, vexedly, 'we 
shall be obliged to shoot him down as he dashes out 
when the door is opened/ He was going to give 
further vent to his anxieties as to the proper carrying 
out of the sentence; but he interrupted himself with a 
sudden exclamation, snatched a musket from a soldier, 
and stood watchful with his eyes fixed on the window. 

IV 

" GASPAR Ruiz had clambered up on the sill, and sat 
down there with his feet against the thickness of the 



CASPAR RUIZ 15 

wall and his knees slightly bent. The window was 
not quite broad enough for the length of his legs. 
It appeared to my crestfallen perception that he 
meant to keep the window all to himself. He seemed 
to be taking up a comfortable position. Nobody inside 
dared to approach him now he could strike with his 
hands. 

"'For Dios! 9 I heard the sergeant muttering at my 
elbow, 'I shall shoot him through the head now, and 
get rid of that trouble. He is a condemned man/ 

"At that I looked at him angrily. 'The general 
has not confirmed the sentence/ I said though I knew 
well in my heart that these were but vain words. The 
sentence required no confirmation. 'You have no 
right to shoot him unless he tries to escape/ I added, 
firmly. 

"'But sangre de Dio$!' the sergeant yelled out, 
bringing his musket up to the shoulder, 'he is escaping 
now. Look!' 

"But I, as if that Gaspar Ruiz had cast a spell 
upon me, struck the musket upward, and the bullet 
flew over the roofs somewhere. The sergeant dashed 
his arm to the ground and stared. He might have 
commanded the soldiers to fire, but he did not. And 
if he had he would not have been obeyed, I think, just 
then. 

"With his feet against the thickness of the wall 
and his hairy hands grasping the iron bar, Gaspar 
sat still. It was an attitude. Nothing happened for a 
time. And suddenly it dawned upon us that he was 
straightening his bowed back and contracting his arms. 
His lips were twisted into a snarl. Next thing we per- 
ceived was that the bar of forged iron was being bent 
slowly by the mightiness of his pull. The sun was 
beating full upon his cramped, unquivering figure. A 



16 CASPAR RUIZ 

shower of sweat-drops burst out of his forehead. 
Watching the bar grow crooked, I saw a little blood 
ooze from under his finger-nails. Then he let go. For 
a moment he remained all huddled up, with a hanging 
head, looking drowsily into the upturned palms of his 
mighty hands. Indeed he seemed to have dozed off. 
Suddenly he flung himself backwards on the sill, and 
setting the soles of his bare feet against the other 
middle bar, he bent that one, too, but in the opposite 
direction from the first. 

"Such was his strength, which in this case relieved 
my painful feelings. And the man seemed to have 
done nothing. Except for the change of position in 
order to use his feet, which made us all start by its 
swiftness, my recollection is that of immobility. But 
he had bent the bars wide apart. And now he could 
get out if he liked; but he dropped his legs inwards, 
and looking over his shoulder beckoned to the soldiers. 
'Hand up the water,' he said. *I will give them all a 
drink.' 

"He was obeyed. For a moment I expected man 
and bucket to disappear, overwhelmed by the rush of 
eagerness; I thought they would pull him down with 
their teeth. There was a rush, but holding the bucket 
on his lap he repulsed the assault of those wretches by 
the mere swinging of his feet. They flew backwards at 
every kick, yelling with pain; and the soldiers laughed, 
gazing at the window. 

"They all laughed, holding their sides, except the 
sergeant, who was gloomy and morose. He was afraid 
the prisoners would rise and break out which would 
have been a bad example. But there was no fear of 
that, and I stood myself before the window with my 
drawn sword. When sufficiently tamed by the strength 
of Gaspar Ruiz they came up one by one, stretching 



CASPAR RUIZ 17 

their necks and presenting their lips to the edge of the 
bucket which the strong man tilted towards them from 
his knees with an extraordinary air of charity, gentleness, 
and compassion. That benevolent appearance was of 
course the effect of his care in not spilling the water 
and of his attitude as he sat on the sill; for, if a man 
lingered with his lips glued to the rim of the bucket 
after Caspar Ruiz had said 'You have had enough/ 
there would be no tenderness or mercy in the shove of 
the foot which would send him groaning and doubled 
up far into the interior of the prison, where he would 
knock down two or three others before he fell himself. 
They came up to him again and again; it looked as if 
they meant to drink the well dry before going to their 
death; but the soldiers were so amused by Caspar 
Ruiz's systematic proceedings that they carried the 
water up to the window cheerfully. 

"When the adjutant came out after his siesta there 
was some trouble over this affair, I can assure you. 
And the worst of it was that the general whom we 
expected never came to the castle that day." 

The guests of General Santierra unanimously ex- 
pressed their regret that the man of such strength 
and patience had not been saved. 

"He was not saved by my interference," said the 
General. "The prisoners were led to execution half an 
hour before sunset. Caspar Ruiz, contrary to the 
sergeant's apprehensions, gave no trouble. There was no 
necessity to get a cavalry man with a lasso in order to 
subdue him, as if he were a wild bull of the campo. I 
believe he marched out with his arms free amongst the 
others who were bound. I did not see. I was not there. 
I had been put under arrest for interfering with the 
prisoner's guard. About dusk, sitting dismally in my 
quarters, I heard three volleys fired, and thought that I 



18 CASPAR RUIZ 

should never hear of Gaspar Ruiz again. He fell with 
the others. But we were to hear of him nevertheless, 
though the sergeant boasted that as he lay on his face 
expiring or dead in the heap of the slain, he had slashed 
his neck with a sword. He had done this, he said, to 
make sure of ridding the world of a dangerous traitor. 

"I confess to you, senores, that I thought of that 
strong man with a sort of gratitude, and with some 
admiration. He had used his strength honourably. 
There dwelt, then, in his soul no fierceness correspond- 
ing to the vigour of his body." 

V 

GASPAR Ruiz, who could with ease bend apart the 
heavy iron bars of the prison, was led out with others 
to summary execution. "Every bullet has its billet," 
runs the proverb. All the merit of proverbs consists 
in the concise and picturesque expression. In the 
surprise of our minds is found their persuasiveness. In 
other words, we are struck and convinced by the shock. 

What surprises us is the form, not the substance. 
Proverbs are art cheap art. As a general rule they 
are not true; unless indeed they happen to be mere 
platitudes, as for instance the proverb, "Half a loaf is 
better than no bread," or "A miss is as good as a mile." 
Some proverbs are simply imbecile, others are immoral. 
That one evolved out of the naive heart of the great 
Russian people, "Man discharges the piece, but God 
carries the bullet," is piously atrocious, and at bitter 
variance with the accepted conception of a compassion- 
ate God. It would indeed be an inconsistent occupa- 
tion for the Guardian of the poor, the innocent, and the 
helpless, to carry the bullet, for instance, into the heart 
of a father. 



GASPAR RUIZ 19 

Gaspar Ruiz was childless, he had no wife, he had 
never been in love. He had hardly ever spoken to a 
woman, beyond his mother and the ancient negress of 
the household, whose wrinkled skin was the colour of 
cinders, and whose lean body was bent double from age. 
If some bullets from those muskets fired off at fifteen 
paces were specifically destined for the heart of Gaspar 
Ruiz, they all missed their billet. One, however, 
carried away a small piece of his ear, and another a 
fragment of flesh from his shoulder. 

A red and unclouded sun setting into a purple ocean 
looked with a fiery stare upon the enormous wall 
of the Cordilleras, worthy witnesses of his glorious 
extinction. But it is inconceivable that it should have 
seen the ant-like men busy with their absurd and 
insignificant trials of killing and dying for reasons that, 
apart from being generally childish, were also im- 
perfectly understood. It did light up, however, the 
backs of the firing party and the faces of the condemned 
men. Some of them had fallen on their knees, others 
remained standing, a few averted their heads from the 
levelled barrels of muskets. Gaspar Ruiz, upright, the 
burliest of them all, hung his big shock head. The low 
sun dazzled him a little, and he counted himself a dead 
man already. 

He fell at the first discharge. He fell because he 
thought he was a dead man. He struck the ground 
heavily. The jar of the fall surprised him. "I am not 
dead apparently," he thought to himself, when he heard 
the execution platoon reloading its arms at the word of 
command. It was then that the hope of escape dawned 
upon him for the first time. He remained lying 
stretched out with rigid limbs under the weight of two 
bodies collapsed crosswise upon his back. 

By the time the soldiers had fired a third volley 



20 CASPAR RUIZ 

into the slightly stirring heaps of the slain, the sun had 
gone out of sight, and almost immediately with the 
darkening of the ocean dusk fell upon the coasts of the 
young Republic. Above the gloom of the lowlands the 
snowy peaks of the Cordilleras remained luminous and 
crimson for a long time. The soldiers before marching 
back to the fort sat down to smoke. 

The sergeant with a naked sword in his hand strolled 
away by himself along the heap of the dead. He was 
a humane man, and watched for any stir or twitch of 
limb in the merciful idea of plunging the point of his 
blade into any body giving the slightest sign of life. 
But none of the bodies afforded him an opportunity for 
the display of this charitable intention. Not a muscle 
twitched amongst them, not even the powerful muscles 
of Gaspar Ruiz, who, deluged with the blood of his 
neighbours and shamming death, strove to appear more 
lifeless than the others. 

He was lying face down. The sergeant recognized 
him by his stature, and being himself a very small man, 
looked with envy and contempt at the prostration of so 
much strength. He had always disliked that particular 
soldier. Moved by an obscure animosity, he inflicted a 
long gash across the neck of Gaspar Ruiz, with some 
vague notion of making sure of that strong man's death, 
as if a powerful physique were more able to resist the 
bullets. For the sergeant had no doubt that Gaspar 
Ruiz had been shot through in many places. Then he 
passed on, and shortly afterwards marched off with his 
men, leaving the bodies to the care of crows and 
vultures. 

Gaspar Ruiz had restrained a cry, though it had 
seemed to him that his head was cut off at a blow; and 
when darkness came, shaking off the dead, whose weight 
iiad oppressed him, he crawled away over the plain on 



CASPAR RUIZ 21 

his hands and knees. After drinking deeply, like a 
wounded beast, at a shallow stream, he assumed an 
upright posture, and staggered on light-headed and 
aimless, as if lost amongst the stars of the clear night. 
A small house seemed to rise out of the ground before 
him. He stumbled into the porch and struck at the 
door with his fist. There was not a gleam of light. 
Caspar Ruiz might have thought that the inhabitants 
had fled from it, as from many others in the neigh- 
bourhood, had it not been for the shouts of abuse that 
answered his thumping. In his feverish and enfeebled 
state the angry screaming seemed to him part of a 
hallucination belonging to the weird, dreamlike feeling 
of his unexpected condemnation to death, of the thirst 
suffered, of the volleys fired at him within fifteen paces, 
of his head being cut off at a blow. "Open the door!'* 
he cried. "Open in the name of God!" 

An infuriated voice from within jeered at him: 
"Come in, come in. This house belongs to you. All 
this land belongs to you. Come and take it." 

"For the love of God," Caspar Ruiz murmured. 

"Does not all the land belong to you patriots?" 
the voice on the other side of the door screamed on. 
"Are you not a patriot?" 

Caspar Ruiz did not know. "I am a wounded man," 
he said, apathetically. 

All became still inside. Caspar Ruiz lost the hope of 
being admitted, and lay down under the porch just 
outside the door. He was utterly careless of what 
was going to happen to him. All his consciousness 
seemed to be concentrated in his neck, where he felt a 
severe pain. His indifference as to his fate was genuine. 

The day was breaking when he awoke from a feverish 
doze; the door at which he had knocked in the dark 
stood wide open now, and a girl, steadying herself 



22 GASPAR RUIZ 

with her outspread arms, leaned over the threshold. 
Lying on his back, he stared up at her. Her face was 
pale and her eyes were very dark; her hair hung down 
black as ebony against her white cheeks; her lips were 
full and red. Beyond her he saw another head with 
long grey hair, and a thin old face with a pair of 
anxiously clasped hands under the chin. 

VI 

"I KNEW those people by sight," General Santierra 
would tell his guests at the dining-table. "I mean 
the people with whom Gaspar Ruiz found shelter. 
The father was an old Spaniard, a man of property 
ruined by the revolution. His estates, his house in 
town, his money, everything he had in the world had 
been confiscated by proclamation, for he was a bitter foe 
of our independence. From a position of great dignity 
and influence on the Viceroy's Council he became of 
less importance than his own negro slaves made free 
by our glorious revolution. He had not even the means 
to flee the country, as other Spaniards had managed to 
do. It may be that, wandering ruined and houseless, 
and burdened with nothing but his life, which was left 
to him by the clemency of the Provisional Government, 
he had simply walked under that broken roof of old 
tiles. It was a lonely spot. There did not seem to be 
even a dog belonging to the place. But though the roof 
had holes, as if a cannon-ball or two had dropped 
through it, the wooden shutters were thick ajid tight- 
closed all the time. 

"My way took me frequently along the path in 
front of that miserable rancho. I rode from the fort to 
the town almost every evening, to sigh at the window 
of a lady I was in love with, then. When one is young f 



GASPAR RUIZ 2$ 

you understand. * . . She was a good patriot, you 
may believe. Caballeros, credit me or not, political 
feeling ran so high in those days that I do not believe 
I could have been fascinated by the charms of a woman 
of Royalist opinions. . . ." 

Murmurs of amused incredulity all round the table 
interrupted the General; and while they lasted he 
stroked his white beard gravely. 

"Seiiores," he protested, "a Royalist was a monster 
to our overwrought feelings. I am telling you this in 
order not to be suspected of the slightest tenderness 
towards that old Royalist's daughter. Moreover, as you 
know, my affections were engaged elsewhere. But I 
could not help noticing her on rare occasions when witk 
the front door open she stood in the porch. 

"You must know that this old Royalist was as crazy 
as a man can be. His political misfortunes, his total 
downfall and ruin, had disordered his mind. To show 
his contempt for what we patriots could do, he affected 
to laugh at his imprisonment, at the confiscation of his 
lands, the burning of his houses, and at the misery 
to which he and his womenfolk were reduced. This 
habit of laughing had grown upon him, so that he 
would begin to laugh and shout directly he caught 
sight of any stranger. That was the form of his 
madness. 

"I, of course, disregarded the noise of that madman 
with that feeling of superiority the success of our cause 
inspired in us Americans. I suppose I really despised 
him because he was an old Castilian, a Spaniard born, 
and a Royalist. Those were certainly no reasons to 
scorn a man; but for centuries Spaniards born had 
shown their contempt of us Americans, men as well 
descended as themselves, simply because we were what 
they called colonists. We had been kept in abasement 



24 CASPAR RUIZ 

and made to feel our inferiority in social intercourse. 
And now it was our turn. It was safe for us patriots 
to display the same sentiments; and I being a young 
patriot, son of a patriot, despised that old Spaniard, and 
despising him I naturally disregarded his abuse, though 
it was annoying to my feelings. Others perhaps would 
not have been so forbearing. 

"He would begin with a great yell 'I see a patriot. 
Another of them!' long before I came abreast of 
the house. The tone of his senseless revilings, mingled 
with bursts of laughter, was sometimes piercingly shrill 
and sometimes grave. It was all very mad; but I 
felt it incumbent upon my dignity to check my 
horse to a walk without even glancing towards the 
house, as if that man's abusive clamour in the porch 
were less than the barking of a cur. Always I rode by 
preserving an expression of haughty indifference on my 
face. 

"It was no doubt very dignified; but I should have 
done better if I had kept my eyes open. A military 
man in war time should never consider himself off 
duty; and especially so if the war is a revolutionary 
war, when the enemy is not at the door, but within 
your very house. At such times the heat of passionate 
convictions passing into hatred, removes the re- 
straints of honour and humanity from many men and 
of delicacy and fear from some women. These last, 
when once they throw off the timidity and reserve of 
their sex, become by the vivacity of their intelligence 
and the violence of their merciless resentment more 
dangerous than so many armed giants." 

The General's voice rose, but his big hand stroked 
his white beard twice with an effect of venerable calm- 
ness. "Si, Seiiores! Women are ready to rise to the 
heights of devotion unattainable by us men, or to sink 



CASPAR RUIZ 25 

Into the depths of abasement which amazes our mas- 
culine prejudices. I am speaking now of exceptional 
women, you understand. . . ." 

Here one of the guests observed that he had never 
met a woman yet who was not capable of turning out 
quite exceptional under circumstances that would en- 
gage her feelings strongly. "That sort of superiority 
in recklessness they have over us," he concluded, 
"makes of them the more interesting half of man- 
kind." 

The General, who bore the interruption with gravity, 
nodded courteous assent. "Si. Si. Under circum- 
stances. . . . Precisely. They can do an infinite 
deal of mischief sometimes in quite unexpected ways. 
For who could have imagined that a young girl, daughter 
of a ruined Royalist whose life was held only by the 
contempt of his enemies, would have had the power 
to bring death and devastation upon two flourishing 
provinces and cause serious anxiety to the leaders 
of the revolution in the very hour of its success!" 
He paused to let the wonder of it penetrate our 
minds. 

"Death and devastation," somebody murmured in 
surprise: "how shocking!" 

The old General gave a glance in the direction of 
the murmur and went on. "Yes. That is, war 
calamity. But the means by which she obtained the 
power to work this havoc on our southern frontier seem 
to me, who have seen her and spoken to her, still more 
shocking. That particular thing left on my mind a 
dreadful amazement which the further experience of life, 
of more than fifty years, has done nothing to diminish." 
He looked round as if to make sure of our attention, 
and, in a changed voice: "I am, as you know, a re- 
publican, son of a Liberator," he declared. "My in- 



26 GASPAR RUIZ 

comparable mother, God rest her soul, was a French- 
woman, the daughter of an ardent republican. As a 
boy I fought for liberty; I've always believed in the 
equality of men; and as to their brotherhood, that, to 
my mind, is even more certain. Look at the fierce 
animosity they display in their differences. And what 
in the world do you know that is more bitterly fierce 
than brothers' quarrels?" 

All absence of cynicism checked an inclination to 
smile at this view of human brotherhood. On the 
contrary, there was in the tone the melancholy natural 
to a man profoundly humane at heart who from duty, 
from conviction, and from necessity, had played his 
part in scenes of ruthless violence. 

The General had seen much of fratricidal strife. 
"Certainly. There is no doubt of their brotherhood," 
he insisted. "All men are brothers, and as such know 
almost too much of 'each other. But" and here in 
the old patriarchal head, white as silver, the black eyes 
humorously twinkled "if we are all brothers, all the 
women are not our sisters." 

One of the younger guests was heard murmuring 
his satisfaction at the fact. But the General continued, 
with deliberate earnestness: "They are so different! 
The tale of a king who took a beggar-maid for a partner 
of his throne may be pretty enough as we men look upon 
ourselves and upon love. But that a young girl, 
famous for her haughty beauty and, only a short time 
before, the admired of all at the balls in the Viceroy's 
palace, should take by the hand a guasso, a common 
peasant, is intolerable to our sentiment of women and 
their love. It is madness. Nevertheless it happened. 
But it must be said that in her case it was the madness 
of hate not of love." 

After presenting this excuse in a spirit of chivalrous 



GASPAR RUIZ 27 

justice, the General remained silent for a time. "I 
rode past the house every day almost," he began again, 
"and this was what was going on within. But how it 
was going on no mind of man can conceive. Her 
desperation must have been extreme, and Gaspar Ruiz 
was a docile fellow. He had been an obedient soldier. 
His strength was like an enormous stone lying on the 
ground, ready to be hurled this way or that by the hand 
that picks it up. 

"It is clear that he would tell his story to the people 
who gave him the shelter he needed. And he needed 
assistance badly. His wound was not dangerous, but 
his life was forfeited. The old Royalist being wrapped 
up in his laughing madness, the two women arranged a 
hiding-place for the wounded man in one of the huts 
amongst the fruit trees at the back of the house. That 
hovel, an abundance of clear water while the fever 
was on him, and some words of pity were all they could 
give. I suppose he had a share of what food there was. 
And it would be but little: a handful of roasted corn, 
perhaps a dish of beans, or a piece of bread with a few 
figs. To such misery were those proud and once 
wealthy people reduced." 

VII 

GENERAL SANTIEKRA was right in his surmise. Such 
was the exact nature of the assistance which Gaspar 
Ruiz, peasant son of peasants, received from the 
Royalist family whose daughter had opened the door of 
their miserable refuge to his extreme distress. Her 
sombre resolution ruled the madness of her father and 
the trembling bewilderment of her mother. 

She had asked the strange man on the doorstep, 
"Who wounded you?" 



28 CASPAR RUIZ 

"The soldiers, seflora," Caspar Ruiz had answered, 
in a fault voice. 
"Patriots?" 

"Si " 

" What for?" 

"Deserter," he gasped, leaning against the wall 
under the scrutiny of her black eyes. "I was left for 
dead over there." 

She led him through the house out to a small hut of 
clay and reeds, lost in the long grass of the overgrown 
orchard. He sank on a heap of maize straw in a corner, 
and sighed profoundly. 

"No one will look for you here," she said, looking 
down at him. "Nobody comes near us. We, too, have 
been left for dead here." 

He stirred uneasily on his heap of dirty straw, and 
the pain in his neck made him groan deliriously. 

"I shall show Estaban some day that I am alive yet," 
he mumbled. 

He accepted her assistance in silence, and the many 
days of pain went by. Her appearances in the hut 
brought him relief and became connected with the 
feverish dreams of angels which visited his couch; 
for Gaspar Ruiz was instructed in the mysteries of his 
religion, and had even been taught to read and write a 
little by the priest of his village. He waited for her 
with impatience, and saw her pass out of the dark hut 
and disappear in the brilliant sunshine with poignant 
regret. He discovered that, while he lay there feeling 
so very weak, he could, by closing his eyes, evoke her 
face with considerable distinctness. And this discovered 
faculty charmed the long, solitary hours of his convales- 
cence. Later on, when he began to regain his strength, 
he would creep at dusk from his hut to the house and 
sit on the step of the garden door. 



CASPAR RUIZ 29 

In one of the rooms the mad father paced to and 
fro, muttering to himself with short, abrupt laughs. In 
the passage, sitting on a stool, the mother sighed and 
moaned. The daughter, in rough threadbare clothing, 
and her white haggard face half hidden by a coarse 
manta, stood leaning against the side of the door. 
Gaspar Ruiz, with his elbows propped on his knees and 
his head resting in his hands, talked to the two women 
in an undertone. 

The common misery of destitution would have made 
a bitter mockery of a marked insistence on social differ- 
ences. Gaspar Ruiz understood this in his simplicity. 
From his captivity amongst the Royalists he could give 
them news of people they knew. He described their 
appearance; and when he related the story of the battle 
in which he was recaptured the two women lamented the 
blow to their cause and the ruin of their secret hopes. 

He had no feeling either way. But he felt a great 
devotion for that young girl. In his desire to appear 
worthy of her condescension, he boasted a little of his 
bodily strength. He had nothing else to boast of. 
Because of that quality his comrades treated him with 
as great a deference, he explained, as though he had 
been a sergeant, both in camp and in battle. 

"I could always get as many as I wanted to follow 
me anywhere, senorita. I ought to have been made an 
officer, because I can read and write." 

Behind him the silent old lady fetched a moaning 
sigh from time to time; the distracted father muttered 
to himself, pacing the sala; and Gaspar Ruiz would 
raise his eyes now and then to look at the daughter of 
these people. 

He would look at her with curiosity because she was 
alive, and also with that feeling of familiarity and awe 
with which he had contemplated in churches the 



30 CASPAR RUIZ 

inanimate and powerful statues of the saints, whose 
protection is invoked in dangers and difficulties. His 
difficulty was very great. 

He could not remain hiding in an orchard for ever 
and ever. He knew also very well that before he had 
gone half a day's journey in any direction, he would be 
picked up by one of the cavalry patrols scouring the 
country, and brought into one or another of the camps 
where the patriot army destined for the liberation of 
Peru was collected. There he would in the end be 
recognized as Gaspar Ruiz the deserter to the Royal- 
ists and no doubt shot very effectually this time. 
There did not seem any place in the world for the 
innocent Gaspar Ruiz anywhere. And at this thought 
his simple soul surrendered itself to gloom and re- 
sentment as black as night. 

They had made him a soldier forcibly. He did not 
mind being a soldier. And he had been a good soldier 
as he had been a good son, because of his docility and 
his strength. But now there was no use for either. 
They had taken him from his parents, and he could no 
longer be a soldier not a good soldier at any rate. 
Nobody would listen to his explanations. What in- 
justice it was! What injustice! 

And in a mournful murmur he would go over the 
story of his capture and recapture for the twentieth 
time. Then, raising his eyes to the silent girl in the 
doorway, "Si, sefiorita," he would say with a deep sigh, 
"injustice has made this poor breath in my body quite 
worthless to me and to anybody else. And I do not 
care who robs me of it." 

One evening, as he exhaled thus the plaint of his 
wounded soul, she condescended to say that, if she were 
a man, she would consider no life worthless which held 
the possibility of revenge. 



CASPAR RUIZ 31 

She seemed to be speaking to herself. Her voice 
was low. He drank in the gentle, as if dreamy sound 
with a consciousness of peculiar delight of something 
warming his breast like a draught of generous wine. 

"True, Senorita," he said, raising his face up to hers 
slowly: " there is Estaban, who must be shown that I 
am not dead after all." 

The mutterings of the mad father had ceased long 
before; the sighing mother had withdrawn somewhere 
into one of the empty rooms. All was still within as 
well as without, in the moonlight bright as day on the 
wild orchard full of inky shadows. Gaspar Ruiz saw 
the dark eyes of Dofia Erminia look down at him. 

"Ah! The sergeant," she muttered, disdainfully. 

"Why! He has wounded me with his sword," he 
protested, bewildered by the contempt that seemed to 
shine livid on her pale face. 

She crushed him with her glance. The power of her 
will to be understood was so strong that it kindled in 
him the intelligence of unexpressed things. 

"What else did you expect me to do?" he cried, as 
if suddenly driven to despair. " Have I the power to do 
more? Am I a general with an army at my back? 
miserable sinner that I am to be despised by you at 
last." 

VIII 

"SEfiORES," related the General to his guests, 
"though my thoughts were of love then, and therefore 
enchanting, the sight of that house always affected me 
disagreeably, especially in the moonlight, when its 
close shutters and its air of lonely neglect appeared 
sinister. Still I went on using the bridle-path by the 
ravine, because it was a short cut. The mad Royalist 
howled and laughed at me every evening to his complete 



32 CASPAR RUIZ 

satisfaction; but after a time, as if wearied with my 
indifference, he ceased to appear in the porch. How 
they persuaded him to leave off I do not know. How- 
ever, with Gaspar Ruiz in the house there would have 
been no difficulty in restraining him by force. It was 
now part of their policy in there to avoid anything 
which could provoke me. At least, so I suppose. 

"Notwithstanding my infatuation with the brightest 
pair of eyes in Chile, I noticed the absence of the old 
man after a week or so. A few more days passed. I 
began to think that perhaps these Royalists had gone 
away somewhere else. But one evening, as I was 
hastening towards the city, I saw again somebody in the 
porch. It was not the madman; it was the girl. She 
stood holding on to one of the wooden columns, tall and 
white-faced, her big eyes sunk deep with privation and 
sorrow. I looked hard at her, and she met my stare 
with a strange, inquisitive look. Then, as I turned 
my head after riding past, she seemed to gather courage 
for the act, and absolutely beckoned me back. 

"I obeyed, senores, almost without thinking, so great 
was my astonishment. It was greater still when I heard 
what she had to say. She began by thanking me for 
my forbearance of her father's infirmity, so that I felt 
ashamed of myself. I had meant to show disdain, not 
forbearance! Every word must have burnt her lips, 
but she never departed from a gentle and melancholy 
dignity which filled me with respect against my will. 
Senores, we are no match for women. But I could 
hardly believe my ears when she began her tale. Provi- 
dence, she concluded, seemed to have preserved the 
life of that wronged soldier, who now trusted to my 
honour as a caballero and to my compassion for his 
iufferings. 

" 'Wronged man/ I observed, coldly. 'Well, I think 



CASPAR RUIZ 33 

so, too: and you have been harbouring an enemy of 
your cause.' 

"'He was a poor Christian crying for help at our 
door in the name of God, senor,' she answered, simply. 

"I began to admire her. 'Where is he now?' I 
asked, stiffly. 

"But she would not answer that question. With 
extreme cunning, and an almost fiendish delicacy, she 
managed to remind me of my failure in saving the lives 
of the prisoners in the guardroom, without wounding 
my pride. She knew, of course, the whole story. 
Gaspar Ruiz, she said, entreated me to procure for him 
a safe-conduct from General San Martin himself. He 
had an important communication to make to the com- 
mander-in-chief. 

"Por Dios, senores, she made me swallow all that, 
pretending to be only the mouthpiece of that poor man. 
Overcome by injustice, he expected to find, she said, as 
much generosity in me as had been shown to him by 
the Royalist family which had given him a refuge. 

"Ha! It was well and nobly said to a youngster 
like me. I thought her great. Alas! she was only 
implacable. 

"In the end I rode away very enthusiastic about the 
business, without demanding even to see Gaspar Ruiz, 
who I was confident was in the house. 

"But on calm reflection I began to see some dif- 
ficulties which I had not confidence enough in myself to 
encounter. It was not easy to approach a commander- 
in-chief with such a story. I feared failure. At last I 
thought it better to lay the matter Kfore my general- 
of-division, Robles, a friend of my family, who had 
appointed me his aide-de-camp lately. 

"He took it out of my hands at once without any 
ceremony. 



34 CASPAR RUIZ 

'"In the house! of course he is in the house/ he said 
contemptuously. 'You ought to have gone sword in 
hand inside and demanded his surrender, instead of 
chatting with a Royalist girl in the porch. Those 
people should have been hunted out of that long ago. 
Who knows how many spies they have harboured right 
in the very midst of our camps? A safe-conduct from 
the Commander-in-Chief ! The audacity of the fellow! 
Ha! ha! Now we shall catch him to-night, and then 
we shall find out, without any safe-conduct, what 
he has got to say, that is so very important. Ha! 
ha! ha!' 

" General Robles, peace to his soul, was a short, thick 
man, with round, staring eyes, fierce and jovial. Seeing 
my distress he added: 

"'Come, come, chico. I promise you his life if he 
does not resist. And that is not likely. We are not 
going to break up a good soldier if it can be helped. I 
tell you what! I am curious to see your strong man. 
Nothing but a general will do for the picaro well, he 
shall have a general to talk to. Ha! ha! I shall go 
myself to the catching, and you are coming with me, of 
course/ 

"And it was done that same night. Early in the 
evening the house and the orchard were surrounded 
quietly. Later on the General and I left a ball we were 
attending in town and rode out at an easy gallop. At 
some little distance from the house we pulled up. A 
mounted orderly held our horses. A low whistle 
warned the men watching all along the ravine, and we 
walked up to the porch softly. The barricaded house 
in the moonlight seemed empty. 

"The General knocked at the door. After a time a 
woman's voice within asked who was there. My chief 
nudged me hard. I gasped. 



CASPAR RUIZ 35 

"'It is I, Lieutenant Santierra,' I stammered out, as 
if choked. 'Open the door/ 

"It came open slowly. The girl, holding a thin 
taper in her hand, seeing another man with me, began 
to back away before us slowly, shading the light with 
her hand. Her impassive white face looked ghostly. I 
followed behind General Robles. Her eyes were fixed 
on mine. I made a gesture of helplessness behind my 
chief's back, trying at the same time to give a reassur- 
ing expression to my face. None of us three uttered 
a sound. 

"We found ourselves in a room with bare floor and 
walls. There was a rough table and a couple of stools 
in it, nothing else whatever. An old woman with her 
grey hair hanging loose wrung her hands when we 
appeared. A peal of loud laughter resounded through 
the empty house, very amazing and weird. At this the 
old woman tried to get past us. 

"'Nobody to leave the room,' said General Robles 
to me. 

"I swung the door to, heard the latch click, and 
the laughter became faint in our ears. 

"Before another word could be spoken in that 
room I was amazed by hearing the sound of distant 
thunder. 

"I had carried in with me into the house a vivid im- 
pression of a beautiful clear moonlight night, without a 
speck of cloud in the sky. I could not believe my ears. 
Sent early abroad for my education, I was not familiar 
with the most dreaded natural phenomenon of my 
native land. I saw, with inexpressible astonishment, a 
look of terror in my chief's eyes. Suddenly I felt giddy . 
The General staggered against me heavily; the girl 
seemed to reel in the middle of the room, the taper fell 
out of her hand and the light went out; a shrill cry of 



36 CASPAR RUIZ 

'Misericordia!' from the old woman pierced my ears. 
In the pitchy darkness I heard the plaster off the walls 
falling on the floor. It is a mercy there was no ceiling. 
Holding on to the latch of the door, I heard the grinding 
of the roof-tiles cease above my head. The shock was 
over. 

" 'Out of the house ! The door ! Fly, Santierra, fly !' 
howled the General. You know, senores, in our country 
the bravest are not ashamed of the fear an earthquake 
strikes into all the senses of man. One never gets used 
to it. Repeated experience only augments the mastery 
of that nameless terror. 

"It was my first earthquake, and I was the calmest of 
them all. I understood that the crash outside was 
caused by the porch, with its wooden pillars and tiled 
roof projection, falling down. The next shock would 
destroy the house, maybe. That rumble as of thunder 
was approaching again. The General was rushing 
round the room, to find the door perhaps. He made a 
noise as though he were trying to climb the walls, and I 
heard him distinctly invoke the names of several saints. 
'Out, out, Santierra!' he yelled. 

"The girl's voice was the only one I did not hear. 

"'General/ I cried, 'I cannot move the door. We 
must be locked in/ 

"I did not recognize his voice in the shout of male- 
diction and despair he let out. Senores, I know many 
men in my country, especially in the provinces most 
subject to earthquakes, who will neither eat, sleep, pray, 
nor even sit down to cards with closed doors. The dan- 
ger is not in the loss of time, but in this that the 
movement of the walls may prevent a door being opened 
at all. This was what had happened to us. We were 
trapped, and we had no help to expect from anybody. 
There is no man in my country who will go into a house 



CASPAR RUIZ 37 

when the earth trembles. There never was except 
one: Gaspar Ruiz. 

"He had come out of whatever hole he had been 
hiding in outside, and had clambered over the timbers of 
the destroyed porch. Above the awful subterranean 
groan of coming destruction I heard a mighty voice 
shouting the word 'Erminia!' with the lungs of a giant. 
An earthquake is a great leveller of distinctions. I 
collected all my resolution against the terror of the 
scene. 'She is here/ I shouted back. A roar as of a 
furious wild beast answered me while my head swam, 
my heart sank, and the sweat of anguish streamed like 
rain off my brow. 

"He had the strength to pick up one of the heavy 
posts of the porch. Holding it under his armpit like a 
lance, but with both hands, he charged madly the rock- 
ing house with the force of a battering-ram, bursting 
open the door and rushing in, headlong, over our pros- 
trate bodies. I and the General picking ourselves up, 
bolted out together, without looking round once till we 
got across the road. Then, clinging to each other, we 
beheld the house change suddenly into a heap of form- 
less rubbish behind the back of a man, who staggered 
towards us bearing the form of a woman clasped in his 
arms. Her long black hair hung nearly to his feet. He 
laid her down reverently on the heaving earth, and the 
moonlight shone on her closed eyes. 

"Senores, we mounted with difficulty. Our horses 
getting up plunged madly, held by the soldiers who had 
come running from all sides. Nobody thought of catch- 
ing Gaspar Ruiz then. The eyes of men and animals 
shone with wild fear. My general approached Gaspar 
Ruiz, who stood motionless as a statue above the girl. 
He let himself be shaken by the shoulder without 
detaching his eyes from her face. 



38 CASPAR RUIZ 

" 'Que guape /' shouted the General in his ear. 'You 
are the bravest man living. You have saved my life. 
I am General Robles. Come to my quarters to-morrow 
if God gives us the grace to see another day.' 

"He never stirred as if deaf, without feeling, in- 
sensible. 

" We rode away for the town, full of our relations, of 
our friends, of whose fate we hardly dared to think. 
The soldiers ran by the side of our horses. Everything 
was forgotten in the immensity of the catastrophe over- 
taking a whole country." 

* 

Gaspar Ruiz saw the girl open her eyes. The raising 
of her eyelids seemed to recall him from a trance. They 
were alone; the cries of terror and distress from homeless 
people filled the plains of the coast remote and immense, 
coming like a whisper into their loneliness. 

She rose swiftly to her feet, darting fearful glances 
on all sides. "What is it? " she cried out low, and peer- 
ing into his face. "Where am I?" 

He bowed his head sadly, without a word. 

"... Who are you?" 

He knelt down slowly before her, and touched the 
hem of her coarse black baize skirt. "Your slave," he 
said. 

She caught sight then of the heap of rubbish that 
had been the house, all misty in the cloud of dust. 
"Ah!" she cried, pressing her hand to her forehead. 

"I carried you out from there," he whispered at lier 
feet. 

"And they?" she asked in a great sob. 

He rose, and taking her by the arms, led her gently 
towards the shapeless ruin half overwhelmed by a land- 
slide. "Come and listen," he said. 

The serene moon saw them clambering over that 



CASPAR RUIZ 39 

heap of stones, joists and tiles, which was a grave. 
They pressed their ears to the interstices, listening for 
the sound of a groan, for a sigh of pain. 

At last he said, "They died swiftly. You are alone." 

She sat down on a piece of broken timber and put 
one arm across her face. He waited then approaching 
his lips to her ear: "Let us go," he whispered. 

"Never never from here," she cried out, flinging her 
arms above her head. 

He stooped over her, and her raised arms fell upon 
his shoulders. He lifted her up, steadied himself and 
began to walk, looking straight before him. 

"What are you doing?" she asked, feebly. 

"I am escaping from my enemies," he said, never 
once glancing at his light burden. 

"With me?" she sighed, helplessly. 

"Never without you," he said. "You are my 
strength." 

He pressed her close to him. His face was grave 
and his footsteps steady. The conflagrations bursting 
out in the ruins of destroyed villages dotted the plain 
with red fires; and the sounds of distant lamentations, 
the cries of Misericordia ! Misericordia ! made a desolate 
murmur in his ears. He walked on, solemn and col- 
lected, as if carrying something holy, fragile, and 
precious. 

The earth rocked at times under his feet. 



IX 

WITH movements of mechanical care and an air of 
abstraction old General Santierra lighted a long and 
thick cigar. 

"It was a good many hours before we could send a 
partv back to the ravine," he said to his guests. "We 



40 GASPAR RUIZ 

had found one-third of the town laid low, the rest 
shaken up; and the inhabitants, rich and poor, reduced 
to the same state of distraction by the universal disaster. 
The affected cheerfulness of some contrasted with the 
despair of others. In the general confusion a number of 
reckless thieves, without fear of God or man, became a 
danger to those who from the downfall of their homes 
had managed to save some valuables. Crying 'Miseri- 
cordia' louder than any at every tremor, and beating 
their breast with one hand, these scoundrels robbed the 
poor victims with the other, not even stopping short of 
murder. 

"General Robles' division was occupied entirely in 
guarding the destroyed quarters of the town from the 
depredations of these inhuman monsters. Taken up 
with my duties of orderly officer, it was only in the 
morning that I could assure myself of the safety of my 
own family. My mother and my sisters had escaped 
with their lives from that ballroom, where I had left 
them early in the evening. I remember those two 
beautiful young women God rest their souls as if I 
saw them this moment, in the garden of our destroyed 
house, pale but active, assisting some of our poor neigh- 
bours, in their soiled ball-dresses and with the dust of 
fallen walls on their hair. As to my mother, she had a 
stoical soul in her frail body. Half -covered by a costly 
shawl, she was lying on a rustic seat by the side of an 
ornamental basin whose fountain Lad ceased to play for 
ever on that night. 

"I had hardly had time to embrace them all with 
transports of joy when my chief, coming along, dis- 
patched me to the ravine with a few soldiers, to bring in 
my strong man, as he called him, and that pale girl. 

"But there was no one for us to bring in. A land- 
slide had covered the ruins of the house; and it was 



CASPAR RUIZ 41 

like a large mound of earth with only the ends of some 
timbers visible here and there nothing more. 

" Thus were the tribulations of the old Royalist couple 
ended. An enormous and unconsecrated grave had 
swallowed them up alive, in their unhappy obstinacy 
against the will of a people to be free. And their 
daughter was gone. 

"That Gaspar Ruiz had carried her off I understood 
very well. But as the case was not foreseen, I had no 
instructions to pursue them. And certainly I had no 
desire to do so. I had grown mistrustful of my inter- 
ference. It had never been successful, and had not even 
appeared creditable. He was gone. Well, let him go. 
And he had carried off the Royalist girl! Nothing 
better. Vaya con Dios. This was not the time to 
bother about a deserter who, justly or unjustly, ought to 
have been dead, and a girl for whom it would have been 
better to have never been born. 

"So I marched my men back to the town. 

"After a few days, order having been re-established, 
all the principal families, including my own, left for 
Santiago. We had a fine house there. At the same 
time the division of Robles was moved to new canton- 
ments near the capital. This change suited very well 
the state of my domestic and amorous feelings. 

"One night, rather late, I was called to my chief. I 
found General Robles in his quarters, at ease, with his 
uniform off, drinking neat brandy out of a tumbler 
as a precaution, he used to say, against the sleepless- 
ness induced by the bites of mosquitoes. He was a good 
soldier, and he taught me the art and practice of war. 
No doubt God has been merciful to his soul; for his mo- 
tives were never other than patriotic, if his character 
was irascible. As to the use of mosquito nets, he consid- 
ered it effeminate, shameful unworthy of a soldier. 



42 CASPAR RUIZ 

"I noticed at the first glance that his face, already 
very red, wore an expression of high good-humour. 

"'Aha! Senor teniente* he cried, loudly, as I saluted 
at the door. 'Behold! Your strong man has turned 
up again/ 

"He extended to me a folded letter, which I saw was 
superscribed 'To the Commander-in-Chief of the Re- 
publican Armies.' 

"'This/ General Robles went on in his loud voice, 
*was thrust by a boy into the hand of a sentry at the 
Quartel General, while the fellow stood there thinking of 
his girl, no doubt for before he could gather his wits 
together the boy had disappeared amongst the market 
people, and he protests he could not recognize him to 
save his life.' 

"My chief told me further that the soldier had given 
the letter to the sergeant of the guard, and that ulti- 
mately it had reached the hands of our generalissimo. 
His Excellency had deigned to take cognizance of it 
with his own eyes. After that he had referred the 
matter in confidence to General Robles. 

"The letter, senores, I cannot now recollect textually. 
I saw the signature of Gaspar Ruiz. He was an auda- 
cious fellow. He had snatched a soul for himself out of 
a cataclysm, remember. And now it was that soul 
which had dictated the terms of his letter. Its tone 
was very independent. I remember it struck me at 
the time as noble dignified. It was, no doubt, her 
letter. Now I shudder at the depth of its duplicity. 
Gaspar Ruiz was made to complain of the injustice 
of which he had been a victim. He invoked his previ- 
ous record of fidelity and courage. Having been saved 
from death by the miraculous interposition of Provi- 
dence, he could think of nothing but of retrieving his 
character. This, he wrote, he could not hope to do 



GASPAR RUIZ 43 

in the ranks as a discredited soldier still under suspicion. 
He had the means to give a striking proof of his fidelity. 
He had ended by proposing to the General-in-Chief 
a meeting at midnight in the middle of the Plaza be- 
fore the Moneta. The signal would be to strike fire 
with flint and steel three times, which was not too con- 
spicuous and yet distinctive enough for recognition. 

"San Martin, the great Liberator, loved men of 
audacity and courage. Besides, he was just and com- 
passionate. I told him as much of the man's story as I 
knew, and was ordered to accompany him on the ap- 
pointed night. The signals were duly exchanged. It 
was midnight, and the whole town was dark and silent. 
Their two cloaked figures came together in the centre of 
the vast Plaza, and, keeping discreetly at a distance, I 
listened for an hour or more to the murmur of their 
voices. Then the General motioned me to approach; 
and as I did so I heard San Martin, who was courteous 
to gentle and simple alike, offer Caspar Ruiz the hospi- 
tality of the headquarters for the night. But the sol- 
dier refused, saying that he would be not worthy of that 
honour till he had done something. 

"'You cannot have a common deserter for your 
guest, Excellency/ he protested with a low laugh, and 
stepping backwards merged slowly into the night. 

"The Commander-in-Chief observed to me, as we 
turned away: 'He had somebody with him, our friend 
Ruiz. I saw two figures for a moment. It was an un- 
obtrusive companion. 5 

"I, too, had observed another figure join the vanishing 
form of Gaspar Ruiz. It had the appearance of a short 
fellow in a poncho and a big hat. And I wondered 
stupidly who it could be he had dared take into his con- 
fidence. I might have guessed it could be no one but 
that fatal girl alas! 



44 GASPAR RUIZ 

"Where he kept her concealed I do not know. He 
had it was known afterwards an uncle, his mother's 
brother, a small shopkeeper in Santiago. Perhaps it 
was there that she found a roof and food. Whatever she 
found, it was poor enough to exasperate her pride and 
keep up her anger and hate. It is certain she did not 
accompany him on the feat he undertook to accomplish 
first of all. It was nothing less than the destruction of a 
store of war material collected secretly by the Spanish au- 
thorities in the south, in a town called Linares. Gaspar 
Ruiz was entrusted with a small party only, but they 
proved themselves worthy of San Martin's confidence. 
The season was not propitious. They had to swim 
swollen rivers. They seemed, however, to have gal- 
loped night and day out-riding the news of their foray, 
and holding straight for the town, a hundred miles 
into the enemy's country, till at break of day they rode 
into it sword in hand, surprising the little garrison. 
It fled without making a stand, leaving most of its 
officers in Gaspar Ruiz' hands. 

"A great explosion of gunpowder ended the con- 
flagration of the magazines the raiders had set on fire 
without loss of time. In less than six hours they were 
riding away at the same mad speed, without the loss of 
a single man. Good as they were, such an exploit is 
not performed without a still better leadership. 

"I was dining at the headquarters when Gaspar 
Ruiz himself brought the news of his success. And it 
was a great blow to the Royalist troops. For a proof he 
displayed to us the garrison's flag. He took it from 
under his poncho and flung it on the table. The man 
was transfigured; there was something exulting and 
menacing in the expression of his face. He stood 
behind General San Martin's chair and looked proudly 
at us all. He had a round blue cap edged with silver 



CASPAR RUIZ 45 

braid on his head, and we all could see a large white 
scar on the nape of his sunburnt neck. 

"Somebody asked him what he had done with the 
captured Spanish officers. 

"He shrugged his shoulders scornfully. 'What a 
question to ask! In a partisan war you do not burden 
yourself with prisoners. I let them go and here are 
their sword-knots/ 

"He flung a bunch of them on the table upon the 
flag. Then General Robles, whom I was attending there, 
spoke up in his loud, thick voice: 'You did! Then, my 
brave friend, you do not know yet how a war like ours 
ought to be conducted. You should have done this/ 
And he passed the edge of his hand across his own 
throat. 

"Alas, senores! It was only too true that on both 
sides this contest, in its nature so heroic, was stained by 
ferocity. The murmurs that arose at General Robles' 
words were by no means unanimous in tone. But the 
generous and brave San Martin praised the humane 
action, and pointed out to Ruiz a place on his right 
hand. Then rising with a full glass he proposed a 
toast: 'Caballeros and comrades-in-arms, let us drink 
the health of Captain Caspar Ruiz/ And when we had 
emptied our glasses: 'I intend/ the Commander-in 
Chief continued, ' to entrust him with the guardianship 
of our southern frontier, while we go afar to liberate our 
brethren in Peru. He whom the enemy could not stop 
from striking a blow at his very heart will know how 
to protect the peaceful populations we leave behind us 
to pursue our sacred task/ And he embraced the silent 
Caspar Ruiz by his side. 

"Later on, when we all rose from table, I approached 
the latest officer of the army with my congratulations. 
* And, Captain Ruiz/ I added, 'perhaps you do not mind 



46 GASPAR RUIZ 

telling a man who has always believed in the upright- 
ness of your character what became of Dona Erminia on 
that night?' 

"At this friendly question his aspect changed. He 
looked at me from under his eyebrows with the heavy, 
dull glance of a guasso of a peasant. 'Senor teniente,' 
he said, thickly, and as if very much cast down, ' do not 
ask me about the senorita, for I prefer not to think 
about her at all when I am amongst you." 

"He looked, with a frown, all about the room, full of 
smoking and talking officers. Of course I did not 
insist. 

"These, senores, were the last words I was to hear him 
utter for a long, long time. The very next day we em- 
barked for our arduous expedition to Peru, and we only 
heard of Gaspar Ruiz' doings in the midst of battles of 
our own. He had been appointed military guardian of 
our southern province. He raised a partida. But his 
leniency to the conquered foe displeased the Civil 
Governor, who was a formal, uneasy man, full of 
suspicions. He forwarded reports against Gaspar Ruiz 
to the Supreme Government; one of them being that 
he had married publicly, with great pomp, a woman of 
Royalist tendencies. Quarrels were sure to arise be- 
tween these two men of very different character. At last 
the Civil Governor began to complain of his inactivity 
and to hint at treachery, which, he wrote, would be not 
surprising in a man of such antecedents. Gaspar Ruiz 
heard of it. His rage flamed up, and the woman ever 
by his side knew how to feed it with perfidious words. 
I do not know whether really the Supreme Government 
ever did as he complained afterwards send orders for 
his arrest. It seems certain that the Civil Governor 
began to tamper with his officers, and that Gaspar Ruiz 
discovered the fact. 



CASPAR RUIZ 47 

"One evening, when the Governor was giving a 
tertullia, Gaspar Ruiz, followed by six men he could 
trust, appeared riding through the town to the door of 
the Government House, and entered the sala armed, his 
hat on his head. As the Governor, displeased, ad- 
vanced to meet him, he seized the wretched man round 
the body, carried him off from the midst of the appalled 
guests, as though he were a child, and flung him down 
the outer steps into the street. An angry hug from 
Gaspar Ruiz was enough to crush the life out of a giant; 
but in addition Gaspar Ruiz' horsemen fired their 
pistols at the body of the Governor as it lay motionless 
at the bottom of the stairs. 

X 

"AFTER this as he called it act of justice, Ruiz 
crossed the Rio Blanco, followed by the greater part 
of his band, and entrenched himself upon a hill. A 
company of regular troops sent out foolishly against 
him was surrounded, and destroyed almost to a man. 
Other expeditions, though better organized, were 
equally unsuccessful. 

"It was during these sanguinary skirmishes that his 
wife first began to appear on horseback at his right 
hand. Rendered proud and self-confident by his suc- 
cesses, Ruiz no longer charged at the head of his partida, 
but presumptuously, like a general directing the move- 
ments of an army, he remained in the rear, well mounted 
and motionless on an eminence, sending out his orders. 
She was seen repeatedly at his side, and for a long time 
was mistaken for a man. There was much talk then 
of a mysterious white-faced chief, to whom the defeats 
of our troops were ascribed. She rode like an Indian 
woman, astride, wearing a broad-rimmed man's hat and 



48 CASPAR RUIZ 

a dark poncho. Afterwards, in the day of their greatest 
prosperity, this poncho was embroidered in gold, and 
she wore then, also, the sword of poor Don Antonio de 
Leyva. This veteran Chilian officer, having the mis- 
fortune to be surrounded with his small force, and 
running short of ammunition, found his death at the 
hands of the Arauco Indians, the allies and auxiliaries 
of Gaspar Ruiz. This was the fatal affair long remem- 
bered afterwards as the 'Massacre of the Island.' The 
sword of the unhappy officer was presented to her by 
Peneleo, the Araucanian chief; for these Indians, struck 
by her aspect, the deathly pallor of her face, which no 
exposure to the weather seemed to affect, and her calm 
indifference under fire, looked upon her as a supernat- 
ural being, or at least as a witch. By this superstition 
the prestige and authority of Gaspar Ruiz amongst 
these ignorant people were greatly augmented. She 
must have savoured her vengeance to the full on that 
day when she buckled on the sword of Don Antonio 
de Leyva. It never left her side, unless she put on her 
woman's clothes not that she would or could ever use 
it, but she loved to feel it beating upon her thigh as a 
perpetual reminder and symbol of the dishonour to the 
arms of the Republic. She was insatiable. Moreover, 
on the path she had led Gaspar Ruiz upon, there is no 
stopping. Escaped prisoners and they were not many 
used to relate how with a few whispered words she 
could change the expression of his face and revive his 
flagging animosity. They told how after every skirm- 
ish, after every raid, after every successful action, he 
would ride up to her and look into her face. Its 
haughty calm was never relaxed. Her embrace, 
senores, must have been as cold as the embrace of a 
statue. He tried to melt her icy heart in a stream of 
warm blood. Some English naval officers who visited 



CASPAR RUIZ 49 

him at that time noticed the strange character of his 
infatuation." 

At the movement of surprise and curiosity in his 
audience General Santierra paused for a moment. 

"Yes English naval officers," he repeated. "Ruiz 
had consented to receive them to arrange for the libera- 
tion of some prisoners of your nationality. In the 
territory upon which he ranged, from sea coast to the 
Cordillera, there was a bay where the ships of that time, 
after rounding Cape Horn, used to resort for wood and 
water. There, decoying the crew on shore, he captured 
first the whaling brig Hersalia, and afterwards made 
himself master by surprise of two more ships, one 
English and one American. 

"It was rumoured at the time that he dreamed of 
setting up a navy of his own. But that, of course, was 
impossible. Still, manning the brig with part of her 
own crew, and putting an officer and a good many men 
of his own on board, he sent her off to the Spanish 
Governor of the island of Chiloe with a report of his 
exploits, and a demand for assistance in the war against 
the rebels. The Governor could not do much for him; 
but he sent in return two light field-pieces, a letter of 
compliments, with a colonel's commission in the royal 
forces, and a great Spanish flag. This standard with 
much ceremony was hoisted over his house in the heart 
of the Arauco country. Surely on that day she may 
have smiled on her guasso husband with a less haughty 
reserve. 

"The senior officer of the English squadron on our 
coast made representations to our Government as to 
these captures. But Gaspar Ruiz refused to treat with 
us. Then an English frigate proceeded to the bay, and 
her captain, doctor, and two lieutenants travelled inland 
under a safe-conduct. They were well received, and 



50 CASPAR RUIZ 

spent three days as guests of the partisan chief. A sort 
of military barbaric state was kept up at the residence. 
It was furnished with the loot of frontier towns. When 
first admitted to the principal sala, they saw his wife 
lying down (she was not in good health then), with 
Gaspar Ruiz sitting at the foot of the couch. His hat 
was lying on the floor, and his hands reposed on the 
hilt of his sword. 

"During that first conversation he never removed his 
big hands from the sword-hilt, except once, to arrange 
the coverings about her, with gentle, careful touches. 
They noticed that whenever she spoke he would fix his 
eyes upon her in a kind of expectant, breathless atten- 
tion, and seemingly forget the existence of the world and 
his own existence, too. In the course of the farewell 
banquet, at which she was present reclining on her couch, 
he burst forth into complaints of the treatment he had 
received. After General San Martin's departure he had 
been beset by spies, slandered by civil officials, his 
services ignored, his liberty and even his life threatened 
by the Chilian Government. He got up from the table, 
thundered execrations pacing the room wildly, then sat 
down on the couch at his wife's feet, his breast heaving, 
his eyes fixed on the floor. She reclined on her back, 
her head on the cushions, her eyes nearly closed. 

"'And now I am an honoured Spanish officer,' he 
added in a calm voice. 

"The captain of the English frigate then took the 
opportunity to inform him gently that Lima had fallen, 
and that by the terms of a convention the Spaniards 
were withdrawing from the whole continent. 

"Gaspar Ruiz raised his head, and without hesitation, 
speaking with suppressed vehemence, declared that if 
not a single Spanish soldier were left in the whole of 
South America he would persist in carrying on the con- 



CASPAR RUIZ 51 

test against Chile to the last drop of blood. When he 
finished that mad tirade his wife's long white hand was 
raised, and she just caressed his knee with the tips of 
her fingers for a fraction of a second. 

"For the rest of the officers' stay, which did not 
extend for more than half an hour after the banquet, 
that ferocious chieftain of a desperate partida over- 
flowed with amiability and kindness. He had been 
hospitable before, but now it seemed as though he could 
not do enough for the comfort and safety of his visitors' 
journey back to their ship. 

"Nothing, I have been told, could have presented a 
greater contrast to his late violence or the habitual 
taciturn reserve of his manner. Like a man elated 
beyond measure by an unexpected happiness, he over- 
flowed with good-will, amiability, and attentions. He 
embraced the officers like brothers, almost with tears in 
his eyes. The released prisoners were presented each 
with a piece of gold. At the last moment, suddenly, he 
declared he could do no less than restore to the masters 
of the merchant vessels all their private property. This 
unexpected generosity caused some delay in the depar- 
ture of the party, and their first march was very short. 

"Late in the evening Gaspar Ruiz rode up with an 
escort, to their camp fires, bringing along with him a 
mule loaded with cases of wine. He had come, he said, 
to drink a stirrup cup with his English friends, whom he 
would never see again. He was mellow and joyous in his 
temper. He told stories of his own exploits, laughed like 
a boy, borrowed a guitar from the Englishmen's chief 
muleteer, and sitting cross-legged on his superfine pon- 
cho spread before the glow of the embers, sang a guasso 
love-song in a tender voice. Then his head dropped on 
his breast, his hands fell to the ground; the guitar 
rolled off his knees and a great hush fell over the camp 



)52 CASPAR RUIZ 

after the love-song of the implacable partisan who had 
made so many of our people weep for destroyed homes 
and for loves cut short. 

"Before anybody could make a sound he sprang up 
from the ground and called for his horse. 

"'Adios, my friends!' he cried. 'Go with God. I 
love you. And tell them well in Santiago that between 
Gaspar Ruiz, colonel of the King of Spain, and the 
republican carrion-crows of Chile there is war to the last 
breath war! war! war!' 

"With a great yell of 'War! war! war!' which his 
escort took up, they rode away, and the sound of 
hoofs and of voices died out in the distance between the 
slopes of the hills. 

"The two young English officers were convinced that 
Ruiz was mad. How do you say that? tile loose eh? 
But the doctor, an observant Scotsman with much 
shrewdness and philosophy in his character, told me 
that it was a very curious case of possession. I met him 
many years afterwards, but he remembered the experi- 
ence very well. He told me, too, that in his opinion that 
woman did not lead Gaspar Ruiz into the practice of 
sanguinary treachery by direct persuasion, but by the 
subtle way of awakening and keeping alive in his simple 
mind a burning sense of an irreparable wrong. Maybe, 
maybe. But I would say that she poured half of her 
vengeful soul into the strong clay of that man, as you 
may pour intoxication, madness, poison into an empty 
cup. 

"If he wanted war he got it in earnest when our 
victorious army began to return from Peru. Systematic 
operations were planned against this blot on the honour 
and prosperity of our hardly won independence. Gen- 
eral Robles commanded, with his well-known ruthless 
severity. Savage reprisals were exercised on both sides 



CASPAR RUIZ 53 

and no quarter was given in the field. Having won my 
promotion in the Peru campaign, I was a captain on the 
staff. Gaspar Ruiz found himself hard pressed; at the 
same time we heard by means of a fugitive priest 
who had been carried off from his village presbytery 
and galloped eighty miles into the hills to perform the 
christening ceremony, that a daughter was born to them. 
To celebrate the event, I suppose, Ruiz executed one or 
two brilliant forays clear away at the rear of our forces, 
and defeated the detachments sent out to cut off his 
retreat. General Robles nearly had a stroke of apoplexy 
from rage. He found another cause of insomnia than 
the bites of mosquitoes; but against this one, senores, 
tumblers of raw brandy had no more effect than so 
much water. He took to railing and storming at me 
about my strong man. And from our impatience to end 
this inglorious campaign I am afraid that all we young 
officers became reckless and apt to take undue risks on 
service. 

"Nevertheless, slowly, inch by inch as it were, our 
columns were closing upon Gaspar Ruiz, though he had 
managed to raise all the Araucanian nation of wild 
Indians against us. Then a year or more later our 
Government became aware through its agents and spies 
that he had actually entered into alliance with Car- 
reras, the so-called dictator of the so-called republic of 
Mendoza, on the other side of the mountains. Whether 
Gaspar Ruiz had a deep political intention, or whether 
he wished only to secure a safe retreat for his wife and 
child while he pursued remorselessly against us his war 
of surprises and massacres, I cannot tell. The alliance, 
however, was a fact. Defeated in his attempt to 
check our advance from the sea, he retreated with 
his usual swiftness, and preparing for another hard 
and hazardous tussle, began by sending his wife with 



54 CASPAR RUIZ 

the little girl across the Pequefia range of mountains, 
on the frontier of Mendoza. 



XI 

"Now Carreras, under the guise of politics and 
liberalism, was a scoundrel of the deepest dye, and 
the unhappy state of Mendoza was the prey of thieves, 
robbers, traitors, and murderers, who formed his party. 
He was under a noble exterior a man without heart, 
pity, honour, or conscience. He aspired to nothing 
but tyranny, and though he would have made use of 
Gaspar Ruiz for his nefarious designs, yet he soon 
became aware that to propitiate the Chilian Govern- 
ment would answer his purpose better. I blush to say 
that he made proposals to our Government to deliver 
up on certain conditions the wife and child of the man 
who had trusted to his honour, and that this offer was 
accepted. 

"While on her way to Mendoza over the Pequefia 
Pass she was betrayed by her escort of Carreras' men, 
and given up to the officer in command of a Chilian fort 
on the upland at the foot of the main Cordillera range. 
This atrocious transaction might have cost me dear, for 
as a matter of fact I was a prisoner in Gaspar Ruiz' 
camp when he received the news. I had been captured 
during a reconnaissance, my escort of a few troopers 
being speared by the Indians of his bodyguard. I was 
saved from the same fate because he recognized my 
features just in time. No doubt my friends thought I 
was dead, and I would not have given much for my life 
at any time. But the strong man treated me very well, 
because, he said, I had always believed in his innocence 
and had tried to serve him when he was a victim of 
injustice. 



GASPAR RUIZ 55 

"'And now/ was his speech to me, 'you shall see 
that I always speak the truth. You are safe/ 

"I did not think I was very safe when I was called 
up to go to him one night. He paced up and down like 
a wild beast, exclaiming, * Betrayed! Betrayed!' 

"He walked up to me clenching his fists. 'I could 
cut your throat/ 

"'Will that give your wife back to you?' I said as 
quietly as I could. 

"'And the child!' he yelled out, as if mad. He fell 
into a chair and laughed in a frightful, boisterous 
manner. 'Oh, no, you are safe/ 

"I assured him that his wife's life was safe, too; but 
I did not say what I was convinced of that he would 
never see her again. He wanted war to the death, and 
the war could only end with his death. 

"He gave me a strange, inexplicable look, and sat 
muttering blankly, 'In their hands. In their hands/ 

"I kept as still as a mouse before a cat. 

"Suddenly he jumped up. 'What am I doing 
here?' he cried; and opening the door, he yelled put 
orders to saddle and mount. 'What is it?' he stam- 
mered, coming up to me. 'The Pequena fort; a 
fort of palisades! Nothing. I would get her back 
if she were hidden in the very heart of the moun- 
tain.' He amazed me by adding, with an effort: "I 
carried her off in my two arms while the earth 
trembled. And the child at least is mine. She at 
least is mine!* 

"Those were bizarre words; but I had no time for 
wonder. 

"'You shall go with me/ he said, violently. 'I may 
want to parley, and any other messenger from Ruiz, the 
outlaw, would have his throat cut/ 

"This was true enough. Between him and the rest 



56 CASPAR RUIZ 

of incensed mankind there could be no communication, 
according to the customs of honourable warfare. 

"In less than half an hour we were in the saddle, 
flying wildly through the night. He had only an escort 
of twenty men at his quarters, but would not wait for 
more. He sent, however, messengers to Peneleo, the 
Indian chief then ranging in the foothills, directing him 
to bring his warriors to the uplands and meet him at the 
lake called the Eye of Water, near whose shores the 
frontier fort of Pequena was built. 

"We crossed the lowlands with that untired rapidity 
of movement which had made Gaspar Ruiz' raids so 
famous. We followed the lower valleys up to their 
precipitous heads. The ride was not without its dan- 
gers. A cornice road on a perpendicular wall of 
basalt wound itself around a buttressing rock, and at 
last we emerged from the gloom of a deep gorge upon 
the upland of Peqxiena. 

"It was a plain of green wiry grass and thin flower- 
ing bushes; but high above our heads patches of snow 
hung in the folds and crevices of the great walls of rock. 
The little lake was as round as a staring eye. The garri- 
son of the fort were just driving in their small herd of 
cattle when we appeared. Then the great wooden 
gates swung to, and that four-square enclosure of broad 
blackened stakes pointed at the top and barely hiding 
the grass roofs of the huts inside seemed deserted, 
empty, without a single soul. 

"But when summoned to surrender, by a man 
who at Gaspar Ruiz* order rode fearlessly forward 
those inside answered by a volley which rolled him and 
his horse over. I heard Ruiz by my side grind his 
teeth. 'It does not matter/ he said. 'Now you go.' 

"Torn and faded as its rags were, the vestiges of my 
uniform were recognized, and I was allowed to approach 



CASPAR RUIZ 57 

within speaking distance; and then I had to wait, 
because a voice clamouring through a loophole with joy 
and astonishment would not allow me to place a word. 
It was the voice of Major Pajol, an old friend. He, like 
my other comrades, had thought me killed a long 
time ago. 

"'Put spurs to your horse, man!* he yelled, in the 
greatest excitement; 'we will swing the gate open for 
you/ 

"I let the reins fall out of my hand and shook my 
head. 'I am on my honour,' I cried. 

"'To him!' he shouted, with infinite disgust. 

"'He promises you your life.' 

"'Our life is our own. And do you, Santierra, 
advise us to surrender to that rastrero ? ' 

"'No!' I shouted. 'But he wants his wife and 
child, and he can cut you off from water/ 

'"Then she would be the first to suffer. You may 
tell him that. Look here this is all nonsense: we 
shall dash out and capture you/ 

"'You shall not catch me alive/ I said, firmly. 

"'Imbecile!' 

'"For God's sake/ I continued, hastily, 'do not open 
the gate/ And I pointed at the multitude of Peneleo's 
Indians who covered the shores of the lake. 

"I had never seen so many of these savages to- 
gether. Their lances seemed as numerous as stalks of 
grass. Their hoarse voices made a vast, inarticulate 
sound like the murmur of the sea. 

"My friend Pajol was swearing to himself. 'Well, 
then go to the devil!' he shouted, exasperated. But 
as I swung round he repented, for I heard him say 
hurriedly, ' Shoot the fool's horse before he gets away/ 

"He had good marksmen. Two shots rang out, and 
in the very act of turning my horse staggered, fell 



58 CASPAR RUIZ 

and lay still as if struck by lightning. I had my feet: 
out of the stirrups and rolled clear of him; but I did 
not attempt to rise. Neither dared they rush out to 
drag me in. 

"The masses of Indians had begun to move upon the 
fort. They rode up in squadrons, trailing their long 
chusos; then dismounted out of musket-shot, and, throw- 
ing off their fur mantles, advanced naked to the attack, 
stamping their feet and shouting in cadence. A sheet of 
flame ran three times along the face of the fort without 
checking their steady march. They crowded right 
up to the very stakes, flourishing their broad knives. 
But this palisade was not fastened together with 
hide lashings in the usual way, but with long iron 
nails, which they could not cut. Dismayed at the 
failure of their usual method of forcing an entrance, 
the heathen, who had marched so steadily against the 
musketry fire, broke and fled under the volleys of the 
besieged. 

"Directly they had passed me on their advance I 
got up and rejoined Caspar Ruiz on a low ridge which 
jutted out upon the plain. The musketry of his own 
men had covered the attack, but now at a sign from 
him a trumpet sounded the * Cease fire/ Together 
we looked in silence at the hopeless rout of the savages. 

"'It must be a siege, then/ he muttered. And I 
detected him wringing his hands stealthily. 

"But what sort of siege could it be? Without any 
need for me to repeat my friend Pajol's message, he 
dared not cut the water off from the besieged. They 
had plenty of meat. And, indeed, if they had been short 
he would have been too anxious to send food into the 
stockade had he been able. But, as a matter of fact, it 
was we on the plain who were beginning to feel the 
pinch of hunger. 



CASPAR RUIZ 59 

"Peneleo, the Indian chief, sat by our fire folded in 
his ample mantle of guanaco skins. He was an athletic 
savage, with an enormous square shock head of hair 
resembling a straw beehive in shape and size, and with 
grave, surly, much-lined features. In his broken Span- 
ish he repeated, growling like a bad-tempered wild 
beast, that if an opening ever so small were made in the 
stockade his men would march in and get the senora 
not otherwise. 

"Caspar Ruiz, sitting opposite him, kept his eyes 
fixed on the fort night and day as it were, in awful si- 
lence and immobility. Meantime, by runners from 
the lowlands that arrived nearly every day, we heard of 
the defeat of one of his lieutenants in the Maipu valley. 
Scouts sent afar brought news of a column of infantry 
advancing through distant passes to the relief of the 
fort. They were slow, but we could trace their toilful 
progress up the lower valleys. I wondered why Ruiz 
did not march to attack and destroy this threat- 
ening force, in some wild gorge fit for an ambuscade, 
in accordance with his genius for guerilla warfare. 
But his genius seemed to have abandoned him to his 
despair. 

"It was obvious to me that he could not tear himself 
away from the sight of the fort. I protest to you, 
senores, that I was moved almost to pity by the sight of 
this powerless strong man sitting on the ridge, indiffer- 
ent to sun, to rain, to cold, to wind; with his hands 
clasped round his legs and his chin resting on his knees, 
gazing gazing gazing. 

"And the fort he kept his eyes fastened on was as 
still and silent as himself. The garrison gave no sign of 
life. They did not even answer the desultory fire 
directed at the loopholes. 

"One night, as I strolled past him, he, without 



60 GASPAR RUIZ 

changing his attitude, spoke to me unexpectedly. *I 
have sent for a gun, 5 he said. *I shall have time to get 
her back and retreat before your Robles manages to 
crawl up here.' 

"He had sent for a gun to the plains. 

"It was long in coming, but at last it came. It was 
a seven-pounder field gun. Dismounted and lashed 
crosswise to two long poles, it had been carried up the 
narrow paths between two mules with ease. His 
wild cry of exultation at daybreak when he saw the 
gun escort emerge from the valley rings in my ears 
now. 

"But, senores, I have no words to depict his amaze- 
ment, his fury, his despair and distraction, when he 
heard that the animal loaded with the gun-carriage had, 
during the last night march, somehow or other tumbled 
down a precipice. He broke into menaces of death and 
torture against the escort. I kept out of his way all 
that day, lying behind some bushes, and wondering 
what he would do now. Retreat was left for him, but 
he could not retreat. 

"I saw below me his artillerist, Jorge, an old Spanish 
soldier, building up a sort of structure with heaped-up 
saddles. The gun, ready loaded, was lifted on to that, 
but in the act of firing the whole thing collapsed and 
the shot flew high above the stockade. 

"Nothing more was attempted. One of the ammuni- 
tion mules had been lost, too, and they had no more than 
six shots to fire; ample enough to batter down the gate 
providing the gun was well laid. This was impossible 
without it being properly mounted. There was no time 
nor means to construct a carriage. Already every 
moment I expected to hear Robles' bugle-calls echo 
amongst the crags. 

"Peneleo, wandering about uneasily, draped in his 



CASPAR RUIZ 61 

skins, sat down for a moment near me growling his usual 
tale. 

"'Make an entrada a hole. If make a hole, bueno. 
If not make a hole, then vamos we must go away.' 

"After sunset I observed with surprise the Indians 
making preparations as if for another assault. Their 
lines stood ranged in the shadows of the mountains- 
On the plain in front of the fort gate I saw a group 
of men swaying about in the same place. 

"I walked down the ridge disregarded. The moon- 
light in the clear air of the uplands was bright as day, 
but the intense shadows confused my sight, and I could 
not make out what they were doing. I heard the voice 
of Jorge, the artillerist, say in a queer, doubtful tone, 
'It is loaded, senor/ 

"Then another voice in that group pronounced firmly 
the words, 'Bring the riata here.' It was the voice of 
Gaspar Ruiz. 

"A silence fell, in which the popping shots of the 
besieged garrison rang out sharply. They, too, had 
observed the group. But the distance was too great 
and in the spatter of spent musket-balls cutting up the 
ground, the group opened, closed, swayed, giving me 
a glimpse of busy stooping figures in its midst. I 
drew nearer, doubting whether this was a weird vision, 
a suggestive and insensate dream. 

"A strangely stifled voice commanded, 'Haul the 
hitches tighter/ 

"'Si, senor* several other voices answered in tones of 
awed alacrity. 

"Then the stifled voice said: 'Like this. I must 
be free to breathe.' 

"Then there was a concerned noise of many men 
together. 'Help him up, hombres. Steady! Under the 
Bother arm/ 



62 CASPAR RUIZ 

"That deadened voice ordered: 'Buenol Stand away 
from me, men.* 

"I pushed my way through the recoiling circle, and 
heard once more that same oppressed voice saying 
earnestly: * Forget that I am a living man, Jorge. 
Forget me altogether, and think of what you have to 
do/ 

"'Be without fear, sefior. You are nothing to me 
but a gun-carriage, and I shall not waste a shot/ 

"I heard the spluttering of a port-fire, and smelt the 
saltpetre of the match. I saw suddenly before me a 
nondescript shape on all fours like a beast, but with a 
man's head drooping below a tubular projection over the 
nape of the neck, and the gleam of a rounded mass of 
bronze on its back. 

"In front of a silent semicircle of men it squatted 
alone, with Jorge behind it and a trumpeter motionless, 
his trumpet in his hand, by its side. 

"Jorge, bent double, muttered, port-fire in hand: 
'An inch to the left, senor. Too much. So. Now, if 
you let yourself down a little by letting your elbows 
bend, I will . . / 

"He leaped aside, lowering his port-fire, and a burst 
of flame darted out of the muzzle of the gun lashed 
on the man's back. 

"Then Gaspar Ruiz lowered himself slowly. 'Good 
shot?' he asked. 

"'Full on, senor/ 

"'Then load again/ 

"He lay there before me on his breast under the 
darkly glittering bronze of his monstrous burden, such 
as no love or strength of man had ever had to bear in 
the lamentable history of the world. His arms were 
spread out, and he resembled a prostrate penitent on 
the moonlit ground. 



GASPAR RUIZ 63 

"Again I saw him raised to his hands and knees 
and the men stand away from him, and old Jorge stoop 
glancing along the gun. 

"'Left a little. Right an inch. POT Dios, senor, 
stop this trembling. Where is your strength?' 

"The old gunner's voice was cracked with emotion. 
He stepped aside, and quick as lightning brought the 
spark to the touch-hole. 

"'Excellent!' he cried, tearfully; but Caspar Ruiz 
lay for a long time silent, flattened on the ground. 

"'I am tired,' he murmured at last. 'Will another 
shot do it?' 

"'Without doubt/ said Jorge, bending down to his 
ear. 

"'Then load/ I heard him utter distinctly. 
'Trumpeter!' 

"'I am here, seiior, ready for your word.' 

"'Blow a blast at this word that shall be heard 
from one end of Chile to the other/ he said, in an 
extraordinarily strong voice. 'And you others stand 
ready to cut this accursed riata, for then will be the 
time for me to lead you in your rush. Now raise 
me up, and you, Jorge be quick with your aim.' 

"The rattle of musketry from the fort nearly drowned 
his voice. The palisade was wreathed in smoke and 
flame. 

"'Exert your force forward against the recoil, mi 
amo/ said the old gunner, shakily. 'Dig your fingers 
into the ground. So. Now!' 

"A cry of exultation escaped him after the shot. 
The trumpeter raised his trumpet nearly to his lips 
and waited. But no word came from the prostrate 
man, I fell on one knee, and heard all he had to say 
then. 

'"Something broken/ he whispered, lifting his head 



64 GASPAR RUIZ 

a little, and turning his eyes towards me in his hope- 
lessly crushed attitude. 

"'The gate hangs only by the splinters/ yelled Jorge. 

"Gaspar Ruiz tried to speak, but his voice died out 
in his throat, and I helped to roll the gun off his broken 
back. He was insensible. 

"I kept my lips shut, of course. The signal for the 
Indians to attack was never given. Instead, the bugle- 
calls of the relieving force for which my ears had thirsted 
so long, burst out, terrifying like the call of the Last Day 
to our surprised enemies. 

"A tornado, senores, a real hurricane of stampeded 
men, wild horses, mounted Indians, swept over me as I 
cowered on the ground by the side of Gaspar Ruiz, still 
stretched out on his face in the shape of a cross. Pe- 
neleo, galloping for life, jabbed at me with his long 
chuso in passing for the sake of old acquaintance, I 
suppose. How I escaped the flying lead is more difficult 
to explain. Venturing to rise on my knees too soon 
some soldiers of the 17th Taltal regiment, in their hurry 
to get at something alive, nearly bayoneted me on the 
spot. They looked very disappointed, too, when, some 
officers galloping up drove them away with the flat of 
their swords. 

"It was General Robles with his staff. He wanted 
badly to make some prisoners. He, too, seemed dis- 
appointed for a moment. 'What! Is it you?' he cried. 
But he dismounted at once to embrace me, for he was 
an old friend of my family. I pointed to the body at 
our feet, and said only these two words : 

"'Gaspar Ruiz.' 

"He threw his arms up in astonishment. 

"'Aha! Your strong man! Always to the last 
with your strong man. No matter. He saved our lives 
when the earth trembled enough to make the bravest 



CASPAR RUIZ 65 

faint with fear. I was frightened out of my wits. But 
he no! Que guape! Where's the hero who got the 
best of him? ha! ha! ha! What killed him, dWcof 
"'His own strength, General,' I answered. 

XII 

"BuT Gaspar Ruiz breathed yet. I had him carried 
in his poncho under the shelter of some bushes on the 
very ridge from which he had been gazing so fixedly 
at the fort while unseen death was hovering already 
over his head. 

" Our troops had bivouacked round the fort. Towards 
daybreak I was not surprised to hear that I was desig- 
nated to command the escort of a prisoner who was to 
be sent down at once to Santiago. Of course the 
prisoner was Gaspar Ruiz' wife. 

"'I have named you out of regard for your feelings, 5 
General Robles remarked. 'Though the woman really 
ought to be shot for all the harm she has done to the 
Republic.' 

"And as I made a movement of shocked protest, he 
continued: 

"'Now he is as well as dead, she is of no importance. 
Nobody will know what to do with her. However, 
the Government wants her.' He shrugged his shoulders. 
'I suppose he must have buried large quantities of his 
loot in places that she alone knows of.' 

"At dawn I saw her coming up the ridge, guarded by 
two soldiers, and carrying her child on her arm. 

"I walked to meet her. 

"'Is he living yet?' she asked, confronting me with 
that white, impassive face he used to look at in an ador- 
ing way. 

"I bent my head, and led her round a clump of 



66 CASPAR RUIZ 

bushes without a word. His eyes were open. He 
breathed with difficulty, and uttered her name with a 
great effort. 

"'Erminia!' 

"She knelt at his head. The little girl, unconscious 
of him, and with her big eyes looking about, began to 
chatter suddenly, in a joyous, thin voice. She pointed 
a tiny finger at the rosy glow of sunrise behind the black 
shapes of the peaks. And while that child-talk, incom- 
prehensible and sweet to the ear, lasted, those two, 
the dying man and the kneeling woman, remained 
silent, looking into each other's eyes, listening to the 
frail sound. Then the prattle stopped. The child 
laid its head against its mother's breast and was 
still. 

"'It was for you,' he began. 'Forgive.' His voice 
failed him. Presently I heard a mutter and caught 
the pitiful words: 'Not strong enough.' 

"She looked at tim with an extraordinary intensity. 
He tried to smile, and in a humble tone, 'Forgive me/ 
he repeated. 'Leaving you . . .' 

"She bent down, dry-eyed and in a steady voice: 
'On all the earth I have loved nothing but you, Gaspar/ 
she said. 

"His head made a movement. His eyes revived. 
'At last!' he sighed out. Then, anxiously, 'But is this 
true . . . is this true?' 

"'As true as that there is no mercy and justice in 
this world/she answered him, passionately. She stooped 
over his face. He tried to raise his head, but it fell 
back, and when she kissed his lips he was already dead. 
His glazed eyes stared at the sky, on which pink clouds 
floated very high. But I noticed the eyelids of the child, 
pressed to its mother's breast, droop and close slowly. 
She had gone to sleep. 



CASPAR RUIZ 67 

"The widow of Gaspar Ruiz, the strong man, allowed 
me to lead her away without shedding a tear. 

"For travelling we had arranged for her a side- 
saddle very much like a chair, with a board swung 
beneath to rest her feet on. And the first day she rode 
without uttering a word, and hardly for one moment 
turning her eyes away from the little girl, whom she 
held on her knees. At our first camp I saw her during 
the night walking about, rocking the child in her arms 
and gazing down at it by the light of the moon. After 
we had started on our second day's march she asked 
me how soon we should come to the first village of 
the inhabited country. 

"I said we should be there about noon. 

"'And will there be women there?' she inquired. 

"I told her that it was a large village. 'There will 
be men and women there, senora,' I said, 'whose hearts 
shall be made glad by the news that all the unrest and 
war is over now.' 

"'Yes, it is all over now,' she repeated. Then, after 
a time: 'Senor officer, what will your Government do 
with me?' 

"'I do not know, senora,' I said. 'They will treat 
you well, no doubt. We republicans are not savages 
and take no vengeance on women.' 

"She gave me a look at the word 'republicans' which 
I imagined full of undying hate. But an hour or so 
afterwards, as we drew up to let the baggage mules go 
first along a narrow path skirting a precipice, she looked 
at me with such a white, troubled face that I felt a great 
pity for her. 

'"Senor officer,' she said, 'I am weak, I tremble. It 
is an insensate fear.' And indeed her lips did tremble 
while she tried to smile, glancing at the beginning of the 
narrow path which was not so dangerous after all. 'I am 



68 CASPAR RUIZ 

afraid I shall drop the child. Gaspar saved your life, 
you remember. . . . Take her from me.' 

"I took the child out of her extended arms. "Shut 
your eyes, senora, and trust to your mule,' I recom- 
mended. 

"She did so, and with her pallor and her wasted, 
thin face she looked deathlike. At a turn of the 
path where a great crag of purple porphyry closes the 
view of the lowlands, I saw her open her eyes. I 
rode just behind her holding the little girl with my 
right arm. 'The child is all right,' I cried encourag- 
ingly. 

"'Yes/ she answered, faintly; and then, to my 
intense terror, I saw her stand up on the foot-rest, 
staring horribly, and throw herself forward into the 
chasm on our right. 

"I cannot describe to you the sudden and abject 
fear that came over me at that dreadful sight. It was 
a dread of the abyss, the dread of the crags which 
seemed to nod upon me. My head swam. I pressed 
the child to my side and sat my horse as still as a 
statue. I was speechless and cold all over. Her mule 
staggered, sidling close to the rock, and then went 
on. My horse only pricked up his ears with a slight 
snort. My heart stood still, and from the depths 
of the precipice the stones rattling in the bed of 
the furious stream made me almost insane with their 
sound. 

"Next moment we were round the turn and on 
a broad and grassy slope. And then I yelled. My 
men came running back to me in great alarm. It 
seems that at first I did nothing but shout, 'She has 
given the child into my hands! She has given the 
child into my hands!' The escort thought I had gone 
mad." 



CASPAR RUIZ 69 

General Santierra ceased and got up from the table. 
"And that is all, seftores," he concluded, with a courte- 
ous glance at his rising guests. 

"But what became of the child, General?" we asked. 

"Ah, the child, the child." 

He walked to one of the windows opening on his 
beautiful garden, the refuge of his old days. Its fame 
was great in the land. Keeping us back with a raised 
arm, he called out, "Erminia, Erminia!" and waited. 
Then his cautioning arm dropped, and we crowded to 
the windows. 

From a clump of trees a woman had come upon the 
broad walk bordered with flowers. We could hear the 
rustle of her starched petticoats and observed the 
ample spread of her old-fashioned black silk skirt. She 
looked up, and seeing all these eyes staring at her 
stopped, frowned, smiled, shook her finger at the Gen- 
eral, who was laughing boisterously, and drawing the 
black lace on her head so as to partly conceal her 
haughty profile, passed out of our sight, walking with 
stiff dignity. 

"You have beheld the guardian angel & the old man 
and her to whom you owe all that is seemly and 
comfortable in my hospitality. Somehow, senores, 
though the flame of love has been kindled early in my 
breast, I have never married. And because of that 
perhaps the sparks of the sacred fire are not yet ex- 
tinct here." He struck his broad chest. "Still alive, 
still alive," he said, with serio-comic emphasis. "But 
I shall not marry now. She is General Santierra's 
adopted daughter and heiress." 

One of our fellow-guests, a young naval officer, 
described her afterwards as a "short, stout, old girl of 
forty or thereabouts." We had all noticed that her hair 
was turning grey, and that she had very fine black eyes. 



70 GASPAR RUIZ 

"And," General Santierra continued, "neither would 
she ever hear of marrying any one. A real calamity! 
Good, patient, devoted to the old man. A simple soul. 
But I would not advise any of you to ask for her hand, 
for if she took yours into hers it would be only to 
crush your bones. Ah! she does not jest on that 
subject. And she is the own daughter of her father, 
the strong man who perished through his own strength: 
the strength of his body, of his simplicity of his love!" 



AN IRONIC TALE 



THE INFORMER 

MR. X came to me, preceded by a letter of intro- 
duction from a good friend of mine in Paris, spe- 
cifically to see my collection of Chinese bronzes and 
porcelain. 

My friend in Paris is a collector, too. He collects 
neither porcelain, nor bronzes, nor pictures, nor medals, 
nor stamps, nor anything that could be profitably dis- 
persed under an auctioneer's hammer. He would reject, 
with genuine surprise, the name of a collector. Never- 
theless, that's what he is by temperament. He collects 
acquaintances. It is delicate work. He brings to it the 
patience, the pa^ion, the determination of a true col- 
lector of curiosities. His collection does not contain 
any royal personages, I don't think he considers them 
sufficiently rare and interesting; but, with that excep- 
tion, he has met with and talked to everyone worth 
knowing on any conceivable ground. He observes 
them, listens to them, penetrates them, measures them, 
and puts the memory away in the galleries of his mind. 
He has schemed, plotted, and travelled all over Europe 
in order to add to his collection of distinguished personal 
acquaintances . 

As he is wealthy, well connected, and unprejudiced, 
his collection is pretty complete, including objects (or 
should I say subjects?) whose value is unappreciated by 
the vulgar, and often unknown to popular fame. Of 
those specimens my friend is naturally the most proud. 

He wrote to me of X: "He is the greatest rebel 

73 



74 THE INFORMER 

(r6volte) of modern times. The world knows him as a 
revolutionary writer whose savage irony has laid bare 
the rottenness of the most respectable institutions. He 
has scalped every venerated head, and has mangled 
at the stake of his wit every received opinion and every 
recognized principle of conduct and policy. Who does 
not remember his flaming red revolutionary pamph- 
lets? Their sudden swarmings used to overwhelm the 
powers of every Continental police like a plague of 
crimson gadflies. But this extreme writer has been 
also the active inspirer of secret societies, the mysterious 
unknown Number One of desperate conspiracies sus- 
pected and unsuspected, matured or baffled. And the 
world at large has never had an inkling of that fact! 
This accounts for him going about amongst us to this 
day, a veteran of many subterranean campaigns, stand- 
ing aside now, safe within his reputation of merely the 
greatest destructive publicist that ever lived." 

Thus wrote my friend, adding that Mr. X was an en- 
lightened connoisseur of bronzes and china, and asking 
me to show him my collection. 

X turned up in due course. My treasures are dis- 
posed in three large rooms without carpets and curtains. 
There is no other furniture than the etageres and the 
glass cases whose contents shall be worth a fortune to 
my heirs. I allow no fires to be lighted, for fear of 
accidents, and a fire-proof door separates them from 
the rest of the house. 

It was a bitter cold day. We kept on our overcoats 
and hats. Middle-sized and spare, his eyes alert in a 
long, Roman-nosed countenance, X walked on his neat 
little feet, with short steps, and looked at my collection 
intelligently. I hope I looked at him intelligently, too. 
A snow-white moustache and imperial made his nut- 
brown complexion appear darker than it really was. In 



THE INFORMER 75 

his fur coat and shiny tall hat that terrible man looked 
fashionable. I believe he belonged to a noble family, 
and could have called himself Vicomte X de la Z if he 
chose. We talked nothing but bronzes and porcelain. 
He was remarkably appreciative. We parted on cordial 
terms. 

Where he was staying I don't know. I imagine he 
must have been a lonely man. Anarchists, I suppose, 
have no families not, at any rate, as we understand 
that social relation. Organization into families may 
answer to a need of human nature, but in the last in- 
stance it is based on law, and therefore must be some- 
thing odious and impossible to an anarchist. But, in- 
deed, I don't understand anarchists. Does a man of 
that of that persuasion still remain an anarchist 
when alone, quite alone and going to bed, for instance? 
Does he lay his head on the pillow, pull his bedclothes 
over him, and go to sleep with the necessity of the 
chambardement general, as the French slang has it, of the 
general blow-up, always present to his mind? And if so 
how can he? I am sure that if such a faith (or such a 
fanaticism) once mastered my thoughts I would never 
be able to compose myself sufficiently to sleep or eat or 
perform any of the routine acts of daily life. I would 
want no wife, no children; I could have no friends, it 
seems to me; and as to collecting bronzes or china, that, 
I should say, would be quite out of the question. But 
I don't know. All I know is that Mr. X took his meals 
in a very good restaurant which I frequented also. 

With his head uncovered, the silver top-knot of his 
brushed-up hair completed the character of his physi- 
ognomy, all bony ridges and sunken hollows, clothed in 
a perfect impassiveness of expression. His meagre 
brown hands emerging from large white cuffs came and 
went breaking bread, pouring wine, and so on, with 



76 THE INFORMER 

quiet mechanical precision. His head and body above 
the tablecloth had a rigid immobility. This firebrand, 
this great agitator, exhibited the least possible amount 
of warmth and animation. His voice was rasping, cold, 
and monotonous in a low key. He could not be called a 
talkative personality; but with his detached calm 
manner he appeared as ready to keep the conversation 
going as to drop it at any moment. 

And his conversation was by no means common- 
place. To me, I own, there was some excitement in 
talking quietly across a dinner-table with a man 
whose venomous pen-stabs had sapped the vitality of at 
least one monarchy. That much was a matter of 
public knowledge. But I knew more. I knew of him 
from my friend as a certainty what the guardians of 
social order in Europe had at most only suspected, or 
dimly guessed at. 

He had had what I may call his underground life. 
And as I sat, evening after evening, facing him at 
dinner, a curiosity in that direction would naturally 
arise in my mind. I am a quiet and peaceable product 
of civilization, and know no passion other than the 
passion for collecting things which are rare, and must 
remain exquisite even if approaching to the monstrous. 
Some Chinese bronzes are monstrously precious. And 
here (out of my friend's collection), here I had before me 
a kind of rare monster. It is true that this monster 
was polished and in a sense even exquisite. His beauti- 
ful unruffled manner was that. But then he was not of 
bronze. He was not even Chinese, which would have 
enabled one to contemplate him calmly across the gulf 
of racial difference. He was alive and European; he 
had the manner of good society, wore a coat and hat 
like mine, and had pretty near the same taste in cook- 
ing. It was too frightful to think of. 



THE INFORMER 77 

One evening he remarked, casually, in the course of 
conversation, "There's no amendment to be got out of 
mankind except by terror and violence." 

You can imagine the effect of such a phrase out of 
such a man's mouth upon a person like myself, whose 
whole scheme of life had been based upon a suave and 
delicate discrimination of social and artistic values. 
Just imagine! Upon me, to whom all sorts and forms 
of violence appeared as unreal as the giants, ogres, and 
seven-headed hydras whose activities affect, fantasti- 
cally, the course of legends and fairy-tales! 

I seemed suddenly to hear above the festive bustle 
and clatter of the brilliant restaurant the mutter of a 
hungry and seditious multitude. 

I suppose I am impressionable and imaginative. I 
had a disturbing vision of darkness, full of lean jaws and 
wild eyes, amongst the hundred electric lights of the 
place. But somehow this vision made me angry, too. 
The sight of that man, so calm, breaking bits of white 
bread, exasperated me. And I had the audacity to ask 
him how it was that the starving proletariat of Europe 
to whom he had been preaching revolt and violence had 
not been made indignant by his openly luxurious life. 
" At all this," I said, pointedly, with a glance round the 
room and at the bottle of champagne we generally 
shared between us at dinner. 

He remained unmoved. 

"Do I feed on their toil and their heart's blood? 
Am I a speculator or a capitalist? Did I steal my 
fortune from a starving people? No! They know this 
very well. And they envy me nothing. The miserable 
mass of the people is generous to its leaders. What I 
have acquired has come to me through my writings; not 
from the millions of pamphlets distributed gratis to the 
hungry and the oppressed, but from the hundreds of 



78 THE INFORMER 

thousands of copies sold to the well-fed bourgeoisie. Yoxi 
know that my writings were at one time the rage, the 
fashion the thing to read with wonder and horror, 
to turn your eyes up at my pathos . . , or else, 
to laugh in ecstasies at my wit." 

"Yes," I admitted. "I remember, of course; and I 
confess frankly that I could n^ver understand that 
infatuation." 

" Don't you know yet," he said, "that an idle and 
selfish class loves to see mischief being made, even if 
it is made at its own expense? Its own life being all a 
matter of pose and gesture, it is unable to realize the 
power and the danger of a real movement and of words 
that have no sham meaning. It is all fun and senti- 
ment. It is sufficient, for instance, to point out the 
attitude of the old French aristocracy towards the 
philosophers whose words were preparing the Great 
Revolution. Even in England, where you have some 
common-sense, a demagogue has only to shout loud 
enough and long enough to find some backing in the 
very class he is shouting at. You, too, like to see mis- 
chief being made. The demagogue carries the amateurs 
of emotion with him. Amateurism in this, that, and 
the other thing is a delightfully easy way of killing 
time, and feeding one's own vanity the silly vanity of 
being abreast with the ideas of the day after to-morrow. 
Just as good and otherwise harmless people will join you 
in ecstasies over your collection without having the 
slightest notion in what its marvellousness really con- 
sists." 

I hung my head. It was a crushing illustration of 
the sad truth he advanced. The world is full of such 
people. And that instance of the French aristocracy 
before the Revolution was extremely telling, too. I 
could not traverse his statement, though its cynicism 



THE INFORMER 79 

always a distasteful trait took off much of its value 
to my mind. However, I admit I was impressed. I 
felt the need to say something which would not be in 
the nature of assent and yet would not invite discussion. 

"You don't mean to say," I observed, airily, "that 
extreme revolutionists have ever been actively assisted 
by the infatuation of such people?" 

"I did not mean exactly that by what I said just 
now. I generalized. But since you ask me, I may tell 
you that such help has been given to revolutionary 
activities, more or less consciously, in various countries. 
And even in this country." 

"Impossible!" I protested with firmness. "We 
don't play with fire to that extent." 

"And yet you can better afford it than others, 
perhaps. But let me observe that most women, if not 
always ready to play with fire, are generally eager to 
play with a loose spark or so." 

"Is this a joke?" I asked, smiling. 

"If it is, I am not aware of it," he said, woodenly. 
"I was thinking of an instance Oh! mild enough in a 
way ..." 

I became all expectation at this. I had tried many 
times to approach him on his underground side, so to 
speak. The very word had been pronounced between 
us. But he had always met me with his impenetrable 
calm. 

"And at the same time," Mr. X continued, "it will 
give you a notion of the difficulties that may arise in 
what you are pleased to call underground work. It is 
sometimes difficult to deal with them. Of course there 
is no hierarchy amongst the affiliated. No rigid 
system." 

My surprise was great, but short-lived. Clearly, 
amongst extreme anarchists there could be no hier- 



80 THE INFORMER 

archy; nothing in the nature of a law of precedence, 
The idea of anarchy ruling among anarchists was 
comforting, too. It could not possibly make for 
efficiency. 

Mr. X startled me by asking, abruptly, "You know 
Hermione Street?'* 

I nodded doubtful assent. Hermione Street has 
been, within the last three years, improved out of any 
man's knowledge. The name exists still, but not one 
brick or stone of the old Hermione Street is left now. 
It was the old street he meant, for he said : 

"There was a row of two-storied brick houses on the 
left, with their backs against the wing of a great public 
building you remember. Would it surprise you very 
much to hear that one of these houses was for a time 
the centre of anarchist propaganda and of what you 
would call underground action?" 

"Not at all," I declared. Hermione Street had 
never been particularly respectable, as I remembered it. 

"The house was the property of a distinguished 
government official," he added, sipping his champagne. 

"Oh, indeed!" I said, this time not believing a word 
of it. 

" Of course he was not living there," Mr. X continued. 
"But from ten till four he sat next door to it, the dear 
man, in his well-appointed private room in the wing of 
the public building I've mentioned. To be strictly 
accurate, I must explain that the house in Hermione 
Street did not really belong to him. It belonged to 
his grown-up children a daughter and a son. The 
girl, a fine figure, was by no means vulgarly pretty. To 
more personal charm than mere youth could account 
for, she added the seductive appearance of enthusiasm, 
of independence, of courageous thought. I suppose she 
put on these appearances as she put on her picturesque 



THE INFORMER 81 

dresses and for the same reason: to assert her individu- 
ality at any cost. You know, women would go to any 
length almost for such a purpose. She went to a great 
length. She had acquired all the appropriate gestures of 
revolutionary convictions the gestures of pity, of 
linger, of indignation against the anti-humanitarian 
vices of the social class to which she belonged herself. 
All this sat on her striking personality as well as her 
slightly original costumes. Very slightly original; just 
enough to mark a protest against the philistinism of the 
overfed taskmasters of the poor. Just enough, and no 
more. It would not have done to go too far in that 
direction you understand. But she was of age, and 
nothing stood in the way of her offering her house to the 
revolutionary workers." 

" You don't mean it!" I cried. 

" I assure you," he affirmed, " that she made that very 
practical gesture. How else could they have got hold 
of it? The cause is not rich. And, moreover, there 
would have been difficulties with any ordinary house- 
agent, who would have wanted references and so on. 
The group she came in contact with while exploring 
the poor quarters of the town (you know the gesture of 
charity and personal service which was so fashionable 
some years ago) accepted with gratitude. The first 
advantage was that Hermione Street is, as you know, 
well away from the suspect part of the town, specially 
watched by the police. 

"The ground floor consisted of a little Italian restau- 
rant, of the flyblown sort. There was no difficulty 
in buying the proprietor out. A woman and a man 
belonging to the group took it on. The man had been 
a cook. The comrades could get their meals there, 
unnoticed amongst the other customers. This was 
another advantage. The first floor wae occupied by a 



82 , THE IJNJbUKiVJLUit 

shabby Variety Artists' Agency an agency for per 
formers in inferior music-halls, you know. A fellow 
called Bomm, I remember. He was not disturbed. It 
was rather favourable than otherwise to have a lot of 
foreign-looking people, jugglers, acrobats, singers of 
both sexes, and so on, going in and out all day long. 
The police paid no attention to new faces, you see. The 
top floor happened, most conveniently, to stand empty 
then." 

X interrupted himself to attack impassively, with 
measured movements, a bombe glacte which the 
waiter had just set down on the table. He swallowed 
carefully a few spoonfuls of the iced sweet, and asked 
me, "Did you ever hear of Stone's Dried Soup?" 

"Hear of what?" 

"It was," X pursued, evenly, "a comestible article 
once rather prominently advertised in the dailies, but 
which never, somehow, gained the favour of the public. 
The enterprise fizzled out, as you say here. Parcels of 
their stock could be picked up at auctions at consider- 
ably less than a penny a pound. The group bought 
some of it, and an agency for Stone's Dried Soup was 
started on the top floor. A perfectly respectable busi- 
ness. The stuff, a yellow powder of extremely unappe- 
tizing aspect, was put up in large square tins, of which 
six went to a case. If anybody ever came to give an 
order, it was, of course, executed. But the advantage 
of the powder was this, that things could be concealed in 
it very conveniently. Now and then a special case got 
put on a van and sent off to be exported abroad under 
the very nose of the policeman on duty at the corner. 
You understand?" 

"I think I do," I said, with an expressive nod at the 
remnants of the bombe melting slowly in the dish. 

"Exactly. But [the cases were useful in another 



THE INFORMER 83 

way, too. In the basement, or in the cellar at the back, 
rather, two printing-presses were established. A lot of 
revolutionary literature of the most inflammatory kind 
was got away from the house in Stone's Dried Soup 
cases. The brother of our anarchist young lady found 
some occupation there. He wrote articles, helped to 
set up type and pull off the sheets, and generally as- 
sisted the man in charge, a very able young fellow caUed 
Sevrin. 

"The guiding spirit of that group was a fanatic of 
social revolution. He is dead now. He was an 
engraver and etcher of genius. You must have seen his 
work. It is much sought after by certain amateurs 
now. He began by being revolutionary in his art, and 
ended by becoming a revolutionist, after his wife and 
child had died in want and misery. He used to say that 
the bourgeoisie, the smug, overfed lot, had killed them. 
That was his real belief. He still worked at his art and 
led a double life. He was tall, gaunt, and swarthy, with 
a long, brown beard and deep-set eyes. You must have 
seen him. His name was Home." 

At this I was really startled. Of course years ago I 
used to meet Home about. He looked like a powerful, 
rough gipsy, in an old top hat, with a red muffler round 
his throat and buttoned up in a long, shabby overcoat. 
He talked of his art with exaltation, and gave one the 
impression of being strung up to the verge of insanity. 
A small group of connoisseurs appreciated his work. 
Who would have thought that this man. . . . 
Amazing! And yet it was not, after all, so difficult to 
believe. 

" As you see," X went on, "this group was in a posi- 
tion to pursue its work of propaganda, and the other 
kind of work, too, under very advantageous conditions. 
They were all resolute, experienced men of a superior 



84 THE INFORMER 

stamp. And yet we became struck at length by the 
fact that plans prepared in Hermione Street almost 
invariably failed." 

"Who were 'we'?" I asked, pointedly. 

"Some of us in Brussels at the centre," he said, 
hastily. "Whatever vigorous action originated in 
Hermione Street seemed doomed to failure. Something 
always happened to baflle the best planned manifesta- 
tions in every part of Europe. It was a time of general 
activity. You must not imagine that all our failures 
are of a loud sort, with arrests and trials. That is not 
so. Often the police work quietly, almost secretly, 
defeating our combinations by clever counter-plotting. 
No arrests, no noise, no alarming of the public mind 
and inflaming the passions. It is a wise procedure. 
But at that time the police were too uniformly successful 
from the Mediterranean to the Baltic. It was annoying 
and began to look dangerous. At last we came to the 
conclusion that there must be some untrustworthy 
elements amongst the London groups. And I came 
over to see what could be done quietly. 

"My first step was to call upon our young Lady 
Amateur of anarchism at her private house. She re- 
ceived me in a flattering way. I judged that she knew 
nothing of the chemical and other operations going on 
at the top of the house in Hermione Street. The print- 
ing of anarchist literature was the only 'activity' she 
seemed to be aware of there. She was displaying very 
strikingly the usual signs of severe enthusiasm, and had 
already written many sentimental articles with ferocious 
conclusions. I could see she was enjoying herself 
hugely, with all the gestures and grimaces of deadly, 
earnestness. They suited her big-eyed, broad-browed 
face and the good carriage of her shapely head, crowned 
by a magnificent lot of brown hair done in an unusua! 



THE INFORMER 85 

and becoming style. Her brother was in the room, too, 
a serious youth, with arched eyebrows and wearing a red 
necktie, who struck me as being absolutely in the dark 
about everything in the world, including himself. By 
and by a tall young man came in. He was clean-shaved 
with a strong bluish jaw and something of the air of a 
taciturn actor or of a fanatical priest: the type with 
thick black eyebrows you know. But he was very pre- 
sentable indeed. He shook hands at once vigorously 
with each of us. The young lady came up to me and 
murmured sweetly, 'Comrade Sevrin.' 

"I had never seen him before. He had little to say 
to us, but sat down by the side of the girl, and they fell 
at once into earnest conversation. She leaned forward 
in her deep armchair, and took her nicely rounded chin 
in her beautiful white hand. He looked attentively into 
her eyes. It was the attitude of love-making, serious, 
intense, as if on the brink of the grave. I suppose she 
felt it necessary to round and complete her assumption 
of advanced ideas, of revolutionary lawlessness, by 
making believe to be in love with an anarchist. And 
this one, I repeat, was extremely presentable, notwith- 
standing his fanatical black-browed aspect. After a 
few stolen glances in their direction, I had no doubt that 
he was in earnest. As to the lady, her gestures were 
unapproachable, better than the very thing itself in the 
blended suggestion of dignity, sweetness, condescension, 
fascination, surrender, and reserve. She interpreted 
her conception of what that precise sort of love-making 
should be with consummate art. And so far, she, too, 
no doubt, was in earnest. Gestures but so perfect! 

"After I had been left alone with our Lady Amateur 
I informed her guardedly of the object of my visit. I 
hinted at our suspicions. I wanted to hear what she 
would have to say, and half expected some perhaps un- 



86 THE INFORMER 

conscious revelation. All she said was, That's serious/ 
looking delightfully concerned and grave. But there 
was a sparkle in her eyes which meant plainly, 'How 
exciting!' After all, she knew little of anything except 
of words. Still, she undertook to put me in com- 
munication with Home, who was not easy to find unless 
in Hermione Street, where I did not wish to show myself 
just then. 

"I met Home. This was another kind of a fanatic 
altogether. I exposed to him the conclusion we in 
Brussels had arrived at, and pointed out the significant 
series of failures. To this he answered with irrelevant 
exaltation : 

" 4 I have something in hand that shall strike terror 
into the heart of these gorged brutes/ 

"And then I learned that, by excavating in one of 
the cellars of the house, he and some companions had 
made their way into the vaults under the great public 
building I have mentioned before. The blowing up of a 
whole wing was a certainty as soon as the materials were 
ready. 

"I was not so appalled at the stupidity of that move 
as I might have been had not the usefulness of our 
centre in Hermione Street become already very prob- 
lematical. In fact, in my opinion it was much more 
of a police trap by this time than anything else. 

"What was necessary now was to discover what, or 
rather who, was wrong, and I managed at last to get 
that idea into Home's head. He glared, perplexed, his 
nostrils working as if he were sniffing treachery in the 
air. 

"And here comes a piece of work which will no doubt 
strike you as a sort of theatrical expedient. And yet 
what else could have been done? The problem was 
to find out the untrustworthy member of the group. 



THE INFORMER 87 

But no suspicion could be fastened on one more than 
another. To set a watch upon them all was not very 
practicable. Besides, that proceeding often fails. In 
any case, it takes time, and the danger was pressing. I 
felt certain that the premises in Hermione Street would 
be ultimately raided, though the police had evidently 
such confidence in the informer that the house, for the 
time being, was not even watched. Home was positive 
on that point. Under the circumstances it was an 
unfavourable symptom. Something had to be done 
quickly. 

"I decided to organize a raid myself upon the group. 
Do you understand? A raid of other trusty comrades 
personating the police. A conspiracy within a con- 
spiracy. You see the object of it, of course. When 
apparently about to be arrested I hoped the informer 
would betray himself in some way or other; either by 
some unguarded act or simply by his unconcerned de- 
meanour, for instance. Of course there was the risk of 
complete failure and the no lesser risk of some fatal 
accident in the course of resistance, perhaps, or in the 
efforts at escape. For, as you will easily see, the Her- 
mione Street group had to be actually and completely 
taken unawares, as I was sure they would be by the real 
police before very long. The informer was amongst 
them, and Home alone could be let into the secret of 
my plan. 

"I will not enter into the detail of my preparations. 
It was not very easy to arrange, but it was done very 
well, with a really convincing effect. The sham police 
invaded the restaurant, whose shutters were immedi- 
ately put up. The surprise was perfect. Most of the 
Hermione Street party were found in the second cellar, 
enlarging the hole communicating with the vaults 
of the great public building. At the first alarm, several 



88 THE INFORMER 

comrades bolted through impulsively into the aforesaid 
vault, where, of course, had this been a genuine raid, 
they would have been hopelessly trapped. We did not 
bother about them for the moment. They were harm- 
less enough. The top floor caused considerable anxiety 
to Home and myself. There, surrounded by tins of 
Stone's Dried Soup, a comrade, nick-named the Pro- 
fessor (he was an ex-science student) was engaged in 
perfecting some new detonators. He was an ab- 
stracted, self-confident, sallow little man, armed with 
large round spectacles, and we were afraid that under a 
mistaken impression he would blow himself up and 
wreck the house about our ears. I rushed upstairs and 
found him already at the door, on the alert, listening, as 
he said, to 'suspicious noises down below.' Before I 
had quite finished explaining to him what was going on 
he shrugged his shoulders disdainfully and turned away 
to his balances and test-tubes. His was the true spirit 
of an extreme revolutionist. Explosives were his faith, 
his hope, his weapon, and his shield. He perished 
a couple of years afterwards in a secret laboratory 
through the premature explosion of one of his improved 
detonators. 

"Hurrying down again, I found an impressive scene 
in the gloom of the big cellar. The man who personated 
the inspector (he was no stranger to the part) was 
speaking harshly, and giving bogus orders to his bogus 
subordinates for the removal of his prisoners. Evi- 
dently nothing enlightening had happened so far. 
Home, saturnine and swarthy, waited with folded arms, 
and his patient, moody expectation had an air of stoi- 
cism well in keeping with the situation. I detected in 
the shadows one of the Hermione Street group surrep- 
titiously chewing up and swallowing a small piece of 
paper. Some compromising scrap, I suppose; perhaps 



THE INFORMER 89 

just a note of a few names and addresses. He was a 
true and faithful 'companion.' But the fund of secret 
malice which lurks at the bottom of our sympathies 
caused me to feel amused at that perfectly uncalled- 
for performance. 

In every other respect the risky experiment, the 
theatrical coup, if you like to call it so, seemed to have 
failed. The deception could not be kept up much 
longer; the explanation would bring about a very 
embarrassing and even grave situation. The man who 
had eaten the paper would be furious. The fellows who 
had bolted away would be angry, too. 

"To add to my vexation, the door communicating 
with the other cellar, where the printing-presses were, 
flew open, and our young lady revolutionist appeared, 
a black silhouette in a close-fitting dress and a large 
hat, with the blaze of gas flaring in there at her back. 
Over her shoulder I perceived the arched eyebrows and 
the red necktie of her brother. 

"The last people in the world I wanted to see then! 
They had gone that evening to some amateur concert 
for the delectation of the poor people, you know; but 
she had insisted on leaving early, on purpose to call in 
Hermione Street on the way home, under the pretext of 
having some work to do. Her usual task was to correct 
the proofs of the Italian and French editions of the 
Alarm Bell and the Firebrand." . . . 

"Heavens!" I murmured. I had been shown once a 
few copies of these publications. Nothing, in my 
opinion, could have been less fit for the eyes of a young 
lady. They Avere the most advanced things of the sort; 
advanced, I mean, beyond all bounds of reason and 
decency. One of them preached the dissolution of all 
social and domestic ties; the other advocated systematic 
murder. To think of a young girl calmly tracking 



90 THE INFORMER 

printers' errors all along the sort of abominable sen- 
tences I remembered was intolerable to my sentiment 
of womanhood. Mr. X, after giving me a glance, 
pursued steadily. 

"I think, however, that she came mostly to exercise 
her fascinations upon Sevrin, and to receive his homage 
in her queenly and condescending way. She was aware 
of both her power and his homage and enjoyed them 
with, I dare say, complete innocence. We have no 
ground in expediency or morals to quarrel with her on 
that account. Charm in woman and exceptional 
intelligence in man are a law unto themselves. Is it 
not so?" 

I refrained from expressing my abhorrence of that 
licentious doctrine because of my curiosity. 

"But what happened then?" I hastened to ask. 

X went on crumbling slowly a small piece of bread 
with a careless left hand. 

"What happened, in effect," he confessed, "is that 
she saved the situation." 

"She gave you an opportunity to end your rather 
sinister farce," I suggested. 

"Yes," he said, preserving his impassive bearing. 
"The farce was bound to end soon. And it ended in a 
very few minutes. And it ended well. Had she not 
come in, it might have ended badly. Her brother, of 
course, did not count. They had slipped into the 
house quietly some time before. The printing-cellar 
had an entrance of its own. Not finding any one 
there, she sat down to her proofs, expecting Sevrin to 
return to his work at any moment. He did not do so. 
She grew impatient, heard through the door the sounds 
of a disturbance in the other cellar and naturally came 
in to see what was the matter. 

Sevrin had been with us. At first he had seemed 



THE INFORMER 91 

to me the most amazed of the whole raided lot. He 
appeared for an instant as if paralyzed with astonish- 
ment. He stood rooted to the spot. He never moved 
a limb. A solitary gas-jet flared near his head; all 
the other lights had been put out at the first alarm. 
And presently, from my dark corner, I observed on his 
shaven actor's face an expression of puzzled, vexed 
watchfulness. He knitted his heavy eyebrows. The 
corners of his mouth dropped scornfully. He was 
angry. Most likely he had seen through the game, and 
I regretted I had not taken him from the first into my 
complete confidence. 

"But with the appearance of the girl he became 
obviously alarmed. It was plain. I could see it 
grow. The change of his expression was swift and 
startling. And I did not know why. The reason 
never occurred to me. I was merely astonished at the 
extreme alteration of the man's face. Of course he had 
not been aware of her presence in the other cellar; but 
that did not explain the shock her advent had given him. 
For a moment he seemed to have been reduced to 
imbecility. He opened his mouth as if to shout, or 
perhaps only to gasp. At any rate, it was somebody 
else who shouted. This somebody else was the heroic 
comrade whom I had detected swallowing a piece of 
paper. With laudable presence of mind he let out a 
warning yell. 

"It's the police! Back! Back! Run back, and 
bolt the door behind you.' 

"It was an excellent hint; but instead of retreating 
the girl continued to advance, followed by her long- 
faced brother in his knickerbocker suit, in which he had 
been singing comic songs for the entertainment of a 
joyless proletariat. She advanced not as if she had 
failed to understand the word 'police' has an un- 



92 THE INFORMER 

mistakable sound but rather as if she could not help 
herself. She did not advance with the free gait and 
expanding presence of a distinguished amateur anarchist 
amongst poor, struggling professionals, but with 
slightly raised shoulders, and her elbows pressed 
close to her body, as if trying to shrink within herself. 
Her eyes were fixed immovably upon Sevrin. Sevrin 
the man, I fancy; not Sevrin the anarchist. But she 
advanced. And that was natural. For all their 
assumption of independence, girls of that class are used 
to the feeling of being specially protected, as, in fact, 
they are. This feeling accounts for nine tenths of 
their audacious gestures. Her face had gone com- 
pletely colourless. Ghastly. Fancy having it brought 
home to her so brutally that she was the sort of person 
who must run away from the police! I believe she was 
pale with indignation, mostly, though there was, of 
course, also the' concern for her intact personality, a 
vague dread of some sort of rudeness. And, naturally, 
she turned to a man, to the man on whom she had a 
claim of fascination and homage the man who could 
not conceivably fail her at any juncture." 

"But," I cried, amazed at this analysis, "if it had 
been serious, real, I mean as she thought it was what 
could she expect him to do for her?" 

X never moved a muscle of his face. 

"Goodness knows. I imagine that this charming, 
generous, and independent creature had never known 
in her life a single genuine thought; I mean a single 
thought detached from small human vanities, or whose 
source was not in some conventional perception. All I 
know is that after advancing a few steps she extended 
her hand towards the motionless Sevrin. And that at 
least was no gesture. It was a natural movement. As 
to what she expected him to do, who can tell? The 



THE INFORMER 93 

impossible. But whatever she expected, it could not 
have come up, I am safe to say, to what he had made 
up his mind to do, even before that entreating hand had 
appealed to him so directly. It had not been necessary. 
From the moment he had seen her enter that cellar, he 
had made up his mind to sacrifice his future usefulness, 
to throw off the impenetrable, solidly fastened mask it 
had been his pride to wear " 

"What do you mean?" I interrupted, puzzled. 
"Was it Sevrin, then, who was " 

"He was. The most persistent, the most dangerous, 
the craftiest, the most systematic of informers. A 
genius amongst betrayers. Fortunately for us, he was 
unique. The man was a fanatic, I have told you. 
Fortunately, again, for us, he had fallen in love with the 
accomplished and innocent gestures of that girl. An 
actor in desperate earnest himself, he must have be- 
lieved in the absolute value of conventional signs. As 
to the grossness of the trap into which he fell, the 
explanation must be that two sentiments of such ab- 
sorbing magnitude cannot exist simultaneously in one 
heart. The danger of that other and unconscious 
comedian robbed him of his vision, of his perspicacity, 
of his judgment. Indeed, it did at first rob him of his 
self-possession. But he regained that through the 
necessity as it appeared to him imperiously to do 
something at once. To do what? Why, to get her 
out of the house as quickly as possible. He was 
desperately anxious to do that. I have told you he 
was terrified. It could not be about himself. He had 
been surprised and annoyed at a move quite unforeseen 
and premature. I may even say he had been furious. 
He was accustomed to arrange the last scene of his 
betrayals with a deep, subtle art which left his revolu- 
tionist reputation untouched. But it seems clear to 



94 THE INFORMER 

me that at the same time he had resolved to make the 
best of it, to keep his mask resolutely on. It was only 
with the discovery of her being in the house that every- 
thing the forced calm, the restraint of his fanaticism, 
the mask all came off together in a kind of panic. 
Why panic, do you ask? The answer is very simple. 
He remembered or, I dare say, he had never forgotten 
the Professor alone at the top of the house, pursuing 
his researches, surrounded by tins upon tins of Stone's 
Dried Soup. There was enough in some few of them to 
bury us all where we stood under a heap of bricks. 
Sevrin, of course, was aware of that. And we must 
believe, also, that he knew the exact character of the 
man. He had gauged so many such characters! Or 
perhaps he only gave the Professor credit for what he 
himself was capable of. But, in any case, the effect 
was produced. And suddenly he raised his voice in 
authority. 

" 'Get the lady away at once.' 

"It turned out that he was as hoarse as a crow; 
result, no doubt, of the intense emotion. It passed off 
in a moment. But these fateful words issued forth from 
his contracted throat in a discordant, ridiculous croak. 
They required no answer. The thing was done. How- 
ever, the man personating the inspector judged it ex- 
pedient to say roughly : 

" 'She shall go soon enough, together with the rest of 
you/ 

" These were the last words belonging to the comedy 
part of this affair. 

"Oblivious of everything and everybody, Sevrin 
strode towards him and seized the lapels of his coat. 
Under his thin bluish cheeks one could see his jaws 
working with passion. 

" 'You have men posted outside. Get the lady taken 



THE INFORMER 95 

home at once. Do you hear? Now. Before you try to 
get hold of the man upstairs.' 

"'Oh! There is a man upstairs/ scoffed the other, 
openly. 'Well, he shall be brought down in time to see 
the end of this. 5 

"But Sevrin, beside himself, took no heed of the 
tone. 

"'Who's the imbecile meddler who sent you blunder- 
ing here? Didn't you understand your instructions? 
Don't you know anything? It's incredible. Here ' 

"He dropped the lapels of the coat and, plunging 
his hand into his breast, jerked feverishly at some- 
thing under his shirt. At last he produced a small 
square pocket of soft leather, which must have been 
hanging like a scapulary from his neck by the tape 
whose broken ends dangled from his fist. 

" 'Look inside,' he spluttered, flinging it in the other's 
face. And instantly he turned round towards the girl. 
She stood just behind him, perfectly still and silent. 
Her set, white face gave an illusion of placidity. Only 
her staring eyes seemed bigger and darker. 

" He spoke rapidly, with nervous assurance. I heard 
him distinctly promise her to make everything as clear 
as daylight presently. But that was all I caught. He 
stood close to her, never attempting to touch her even 
with the tip of his little finger and she stared at him 
stupidly. For a moment, however, her eyelids de- 
scended slowly, pathetically, and then, with the 
long black eyelashes lying on her white cheeks, she 
looked ready to fall down in a swoon. But she never 
even swayed where she stood. He urged her loudly to 
follow him at once, and walked towards the door at the 
bottom of the cellar stairs without looking behind him. 
And, as a matter of fact, she did move after him a pace 
or two. But, of course, he was not allowed to reach the 



96 THE INFORMER 

door. There were angry exclamations, a short, fierce 
scuffle. Flung away violently, he came flying back- 
wards upon her, and fell. She threw out her arms in a 
gesture of dismay and stepped aside, just clear of his 
head, which struck the ground heavily near her shoe. 

"He grunted with the shock. By the time he had 
picked himself up, slowly, dazedly, he was awake to the 
reality of things. The man into whose hands he had 
thrust the leather case had extracted therefrom a 
narrow strip of bluish paper. He held it up above his 
head, and, as after the scuffle an expectant uneasy still- 
ness reigned once more, he threw it down disdainfully 
with the words, 'I think, comrades, that this proof was 
hardly necessary.' 

"Quick as thought, the girl stooped after the flutter- 
ing slip. Holding it spread out in both hands, she 
looked at it; then, without raising her eyes, opened her 
fingers slowly and let it fall. 

"I examined that curious document afterwards. It 
was signed by a very high personage, and stamped and 
countersigned by other high officials in various countries 
of Europe. In his trade or shall I say, in his mission? 
that sort of talisman might have been necessary, no 
doubt. Even to the police itself all but the heads 
he had been known only as Sevriii the noted anarchist. 

"He hung his head, biting his lower lip. A change 
had come over him, a sort of thoughtful, absorbed calm- 
ness. Nevertheless, he panted. His sides worked visi- 
bly, and his nostrils expanded and collapsed in weird 
contrast with his sombre aspect of a fanatical monk in a 
meditative attitude, but with something, too, in his 
face of an actor intent upon the terrible exigencies of his 
part. Before him Home declaimed, haggard and 
bearded, like an inspired denunciatory prophet from a 
wilderness. Two fanatics. They were made to under- 



THE INFORMER 97 

stand each other. Does this surprise you? I sup- 
pose you think that such people would be foaming at the 
mouth and snarling at each other?" 

I protested hastily that I was not surprised in the 
least; that I thought nothing of the kind; that anarchists 
in general were simply inconceivable to me mentally, 
morally, logically, sentimentally, and even physically. 
X received this declaration with his usual woodenness 
and went on. 

"Home had burst out into eloquence. While pour- 
ing out scornful invective, he let tears escape from his 
eyes and roll down his black beard unheeded. Sevrin 
panted quicker and quicker. When he opened his 
mouth to speak, everyone hung on his words. 

"'Don't be a fool, Home,' he began. 'You know 
very well that I have done this for none of the reasons 
you are throwing at me/ And in a moment he became 
outwardly as steady as a rock under the other's lurid 
stare. 'I have been thwarting, deceiving, and betraying 
you from conviction.' 

"lie turned his back on Home, and addressing the 
girl, repeated the words: 'From conviction.' 

"It's extraordinary how cold she looked. I suppose 
she could not think of any appropriate gesture. There 
can have been few precedents indeed for such a situ- 
ation. 

"'Clear as daylight,' he added. 'Do you understand 
what that means? From conviction.' 

"And still she did not stir. She did not know what 
to do. But the luckless wretch w r as about to give 
her the opportunity for a beautiful and correct gesture. 

"T have felt in me the power to make you share 
this conviction,' he protested, ardently. He had for- 
gotten himself; he made a step towards her perhaps 
he stumbled. To me he seemed to be stooping low as 



98 THE INFORMER 

if to touch the hem of her garment. And then the 
appropriate gesture came. She snatched her skirt 
away from his polluting contact and averted her head 
with an upward tilt. It was magnificently done, this 
gesture of conventionally unstained honour, of an un- 
blemished high-minded amateur. 

"Nothing could have been better. And he seemed 
to think so, too, for once more he turned away. But 
this time he faced no one. He was again panting fright- 
fully, while he fumbled hurriedly in his waistcoat 
pocket, and then raised his hand to his lips. There was 
something furtive in this movement, but directly after- 
wards his bearing changed. His laboured breathing 
gave him a resemblance to a man who had just run a 
desperate race; but a curious air of detachment, of sud- 
den and profound indifference, replaced the strain of the 
striving effort. The race was over. I did not want to 
see what would happen next. I was only too well 
aware. I tucked the young lady's arm under mine 
without a word, and made my way with her to the 
stairs. 

"Her brother walked behind us. Half-way up the 
short flight she seemed unable to lift her feet high 
enough for the steps, and we had to pull and push to get 
her to the top. In the passage she dragged herself 
along, hanging on my arm, helplessly bent like an old 
woman. We issued into an empty street through a 
half -open door, staggering like besotted revellers. At 
the corner we stopped a four-wheeler, and the ancient 
driver looked round from his box with morose scorn at 
our efforts to get her in. Twice during the drive I felt 
her collapse on my shoulder in a half faint. Facing us, 
the youth in knickerbockers remained as mute as a 
fish, and, till he jumped out with the latch-key, sat 
more still than I would have believed it possible. 



THE INFORMER 99 

"At the door of their drawing-room she left my arm 
and walked in first, catching at the chairs and tables. 
She unpinned her hat, then, exhausted with the effort, 
her cloak still hanging from her shoulders, flung her- 
self into a deep armchair, sideways, her face half 
buried in a cushion. The good brother appeared 
silently before her with a glass of water. She motioned 
it away. He drank it himself and walked off to a dis- 
tant corner behind the grand piano, somewhere. All 
was still in this room where I had seen, for the first 
time, Sevrin, the anti-anarchist, captivated and spell- 
bound by the consummate and hereditary grimaces 
that in a certain sphere of life take the place of feelings 
with an excellent effect. I suppose her thoughts were 
busy with the same memory. Her shoulders shook 
violently. A pure attack of nerves. When it quieted 
down she affected firmness, 'What is done to a man of 
that sort? What will they do to him?' 

" 'Nothing. They can do nothing to him,' I assured 
her, with perfect truth. I was pretty certain he had 
died in less than twenty minutes from the moment his 
hand had gone to his lips. For if his fanatical anti- 
anarchism went even as far as carrying poison in his 
pocket, only to rob his adversaries of legitimate ven- 
geance, I knew he would take care to provide something 
that would not fail him when required. 

"She drew an angry breath. There were red spots 
on her cheeks and a feverish brilliance in her eyes. 

"'Has ever any one been exposed to such a terrible 
experience? To think that he had held my hand! 
That man!' Her face twitched, she gulped down a 
pathetic sob. 'If I ever felt sure of anything, it was of 
Sevrin's high-minded motives/ 

"Then she began to weep quietly, which was good 
for her. Then through her flood of tears, half resentful. 



100 THE INFORMER 

'What was it lie said to me? "From conviction!'* 
It seemed a vile mockery. What could he mean by 
it?' 

"'That, my dear young lady/ I said, gently, 'is more 
than I or anybody else can ever explain to you.'" 

Mr. X flicked a crumb off the front of his coat. 

"And that was strictly true as to her. Though 
Home, for instance, understood very well; and so did I, 
especially after we had been to Sevrin's lodging in a 
dismal back street of an intensely respectable quarter. 
Home was known there as a friend, and we had no 
difficulty in being admitted, the slatternly maid merely 
remarking, as she let us in, that 'Mr Sevrin had not been 
home that night.' We forced open a couple of drawers 
in the way of duty, and found a little useful information. 
The most interesting part was his diary; for this man, 
engaged in such deadly work, had the weakness to keep 
a record of the most damnatory kind. There were his 
acts and also his thoughts laid bare to us. But the dead 
don't mind that. They don't mind anything. 

"'From conviction.' Yes. A vague but ardent 
humanitarianism had urged him in his first youth into 
the bitterest extremity of negation and revolt. After- 
wards his optimism flinched. He doubted and became 
lost. You have heard of converted atheists. These 
turn often into dangerous fanatics, but the soul remains 
the same. After he had got acquainted with the girl, 
there are to be met in that diary of his very queer 
politico-amorous rhapsodies. He took her sovereign 
grimaces with deadly seriousness. He longed to con- 
vert her. But all this cannot interest you. For the 
rest, I don't know if you remember it is a good many 
years ago now the journalistic sensation of the 'Hermi- 
one Street Mystery'; the finding of a man's body in the 
cellar of an empty house; the inquest; some arrests; 



THE INFORMER 101 

many surmises then silence the usual end for many 
obscure martyrs and confessors. The fact is, he was 
not enough of an optimist. You must be a savage, 
tyrannical, pitiless, thick-and-thin optimist, like Home, 
for instance, to make a good social rebel of the extreme 
type. 

He rose from the table. A waiter hurried up with 
his overcoat; another held his hat in readiness. 

"But what became of the young lady?" I asked. 

"Do you really want to know?" he said, buttoning 
himself in his fur coat carefully. " I confess to the small 
malice of sending her Sevrin's diary. She went into 
retirement; then she went to Florence; then she went 
into retreat in a convent. I can't tell where she will 
go next. What does it matter? Gestures! Gestures! 
Mere gestures of her class." 

He fitted on his glossy high hat with extreme pre- 
cision, and casting a rapid glance round the room, full 
of well-dressed people, innocently dining, muttered 
between his teeth: 

"And nothing else! That is why their kind is fated 
to perish." 

I never met Mr. X again after that evening. I took 
to dining at my club. On my next visit to Paris I found 
my friend all impatience to hear of the effect produced 
on me by this rare item of his collection. I told him all 
the story, and he beamed on me with the pride of his 
distinguished specimen. 

"Isn't X well worth knowing?" he bubbled over 
in great delight. "He's unique, amazing, absolutely 
terrific." 

His enthusiasm grated upon my finer feelings. I 
told him curtly that the man's cynicism was simply 
abominable. 

"Oh, abominable! abominable !" assented my friend, 



102 THE INFORMER 

effusively. "And then, you know, he likes to have his 
little joke sometimes," he added in a confidential tone. 
I fail to understand the connection of this last re- 
mark. I have been utterly unable to discover where in 
all this the joke comes in. 



AN INDIGNANT TALE 



THE BRUTE 

DODGING in from the rain-swept street, I exchanged 
a smile and a glance with Miss Blank in the bar of the 
Three Crows. This exchange was effected with ex- 
treme propriety. It is a shock to think that, if still 
alive, Miss Blank must be something over sixty now. 
How time passes! 

Noticing my gaze directed inquiringly at the parti- 
tion of glass and varnished wood, Miss Blank was good 
enough to say, encouragingly: 

"Only Mr. Jerrnyn and Mr. Stonor in the parlour with 
another gentleman I've never seen before." 

I moved towards the parlour door. A voice dis- 
coursing on the other side (it was but a matchboard 
partition), rose so loudly that the concluding words 
became quite plain in all their atrocity. 

"That fellow Wilmot fairly dashed her brains out, 
and a good job, too!" 

This inhuman sentiment, since there was nothing 
profane or improper in it, failed to do as much as to 
check the slight yawn Miss Blank was achieving behind 
her hand. And she remained gazing fixedly at the 
window-panes, which streamed with rain. 

As I opened the parlour door the same voice went on 
in the same cruel strain: 

"I was glad when I heard she got the knock from 
somebody at last. Sorry enough for poor Wilmot, 
though. That man and I used to be chums at one 
time. Of course that was the end of him. A clear 



106 THE BRUTE 

case if there ever was one. No way out of it. None 
at all." 

The voice belonged to the gentleman Miss Blank had 
never seen before. He straddled his long legs on the 
hearthrug. Jermyn, leaning forward, held his pocket- 
handkerchief spread out before the grate. He looked 
back dismally over his shoulder, and as I slipped behind 
one of the little wooden tables, I nodded to him. On 
the other side of the fire, imposingly calm and large, 
sat Mr. Stonor, jammed tight into a capacious Windsor 
armchair. There was nothing small about him but 
his short, white side- whiskers. Yards and yards of 
extra superfine blue cloth (made up into an overcoat) 
reposed on a chair by his side. And he must just 
laave brought some liner from sea, because another 
chair was smothered under his black waterproof, 
ample as a pall, and made of three-fold oiled silk, 
double-stitched throughout. A man's hand-bag of tfie 
usual size looked like a child's toy on the floor near 
his feet. 

I did not nod to him. lie was too big to be nodded 
to in that parlour. He was a senior Trinity pilot and 
condescended to take his turn in the cutter only during 
the summer months. He had been many times in 
charge of royal yachts in and out of Port Victoria. 
Besides, it's no use nodding to a monument. And he 
was like one. He didn't speak, he didn't budge. He 
just sat there, holding his handsome old head up, 
immovable, and almost bigger than life. It was ex- 
tremely fine. Mr. Stonor's presence reduced poor old 
Jermyn to a mere shabby wisp of a man, and made the 
talkative stranger in tweeds on the hearthrug look 
absurdly boyish. The latter must have been a few 
years over thirty, and was certainly not the sort of 
individual that gets abashed at the sound of his own 



THE BRUTE 107 

voice, because gathering me in, as it were, by a friendly 
glance, he kept it going without a check. 

"I was glad of it," he repeated, emphatically. "You 
may be surprised at it, but then you haven't gone 
through the experience I've had of her. I can tell you, 
it was something to remember. Of course, I got off scot 
free myself as you can sec. She did her best to break 
up my pluck for me tho'. She jolly near drove as fine a 
fellow as ever lived into a madhouse. What do you say 
to that eh?" 

Not an eyelid twitched in Mr. Stonor's enormous face. 
Monumental! The speaker looked straight into my 
eyes. 

"It used to make me sick to think of her going 
about the world murdering people." 

Jermyn approached the handkerchief a little nearer 
to the grate and groaned. It was simply a habit he had. 

"I've seen her once," he declared, with mournful in- 
difference. "She had a house " 

The stranger in tweeds turned to stare down at him, 
surprised. 

"She had three houses," he corrected, authoritatively. 
But Jermyn was not to be contradicted. 

"She had a house, I say," he repeated, with dismal 
obstinacy. "A great, big, ugly, white thing. You could 
see it from miles away sticking up." 

"So you could," assented the other readily. "It was 
old Colchester's notion, though he was always threaten- 
ing to give her up. He couldn't stand her racket any 
more, he declared; it was too much of a good thing for 
him; he would wash his hands of her, if he never got 
hold of another and so on. I daresay he would have 
chucked her, only it may surprise you his missus 
wouldn't hear of it. Funny, eh? But with women, 
you never know how they will tak^ a thing, and Mrs. 



108 THE BRUTE 

Colchester, with her moustaches and big eyebrows, set 
up for being as strong-minded as they make them. She 
used to walk about in a brown silk dress, with a great 
gold cable flopping about her bosom. You should have 
heard her snapping out: 'Rubbish!* or * Stuff and non- 
sense!' I daresay she knew when she was well off. 
They had no children, and had never set up a home any- 
where. When in England she just made shift to hang 
out anyhow in some cheap hotel or boarding-house. I 
daresay she liked to get back to the comforts she was 
used to. She knew very well she couldn't gain by any 
change. And, moreover, Colchester, though a first- 
rate man, was not what you may call in his first youth, 
and, perhaps, she may have thought that he wouldn't 
be able to get hold of another (as he used to say) so 
easily. Anyhow, for one reason or another, it was 
'Rubbish' and * Stuff and nonsense' for the good lady. 
I overheard once young Mr. Apse himself say to 'her 
confidentially: 'I assure you, Mrs. Colchester, I am 
beginning to feel quite unhappy about the name she's 
getting for herself.' *Oh,' says she, with her deep little 
hoarse laugh, 'if one took notice of all the silly talk/ 
and she showed Apse all her ugly false teeth at once. 
4 It would take more than that to make me lose my 
confidence in her, I assure you,' says she." 

At this point, without any change of facial expression, 
Mr. Stonor emitted a short, sardonic laugh. It was 
very impressive, but I didn't see the fun. I looked from 
one to another. The stranger on the hearthrug had an 
ugly smile. 

"And Mr. Apse shook both Mrs. Colchester's hands, 
he was so pleased to hear a good word said for their 
favourite. All these Apses, young and old you know, 
were perfectly infatuated with that abominable, dan- 
gerous " 



THE BRUTE 109 

"I beg your pardon," I interrupted, for he seemed 
to be addressing himself exclusively to me; "but who 
on earth are you talking about?" 

"I am talking of the Apse family," he answered, 
courteously. 

I nearly let out a damn at this. But just then the 
respected Miss Blank put her head in, and said that the 
cab was at the door, if Mr. Stonor wanted to catch the 
eleven three up. 

At once the senior pilot arose in his mighty bulk and 
began to struggle into his coat, with awe-inspiring up- 
heavals. The stranger and I hurried impulsively to his 
assistance, and directly we laid our hands on him he 
became perfectly quiescent. We had to raise our arms 
very high, and to make efforts. It was like caparisoning 
a docile elephant. With a "Thanks, gentlemen," he 
dived under and squeezed himself through the door in a 
great hurry. 

We smiled at each other in a friendly way. 

"I wonder how he manages to hoist himself up a 
ship's side-ladder," said the man in tweeds; and poor 
Jermyn, who was a mere North Sea pilot, without official 
status or recognition of any sort, pilot only by courtesy, 
groaned. 

"He makes eight hundred a year." 

"Are you a sailor?" I asked the stranger, who had 
gone back to his position on the rug. 

"I used to be till a couple of years ago, when I got 
married," answered this communicative individual. "I 
even went to sea first in that very ship we were speak- 
ing of when you came in." 

"What ship?" I asked, puzzled. "I never heard 
you mention a ship." 

"I've just told you her name, my dear sir," he replied. 
"The Apse Family. Surely you've heard of the great 



110 THE BRUTE 

firm of Apse & Sons, shipowners. They had a pretty 
big fleet. There was the Lucy Apse, and the Harold 
Apse, and Anne, John, Malcolm, Clara, Juliet, and so on 
no end of Apses. Every brother, sister, aunt, cousin, 
wife and grandmother, too, for all I know of the firm 
had a ship named after them. Good, solid, old-fashioned 
craft they were, too, built to carry and to last. None 
of your new-fangled, labour-saving appliances in them, 
but plenty of men and plenty of good salt beef and hard 
tack put aboard and off you go to fight your way out 
and home again." 

The miserable Jermyn made a sound of approval, 
which sounded like a groan of pain. Those were the 
ships for him. He pointed out in doleful tones that 
you couldn't say to labour-saving appliances: "Jump 
lively now, my hearties." No labour-saving appliance 
would go aloft on a dirty night with the sands under 
your lee. 4 

"No," assented the stranger, with a wink at me. 
"The Apses didn't believe in them either, apparently. 
They treated their people well as people don't get 
treated nowadays, and they were awfully proud of their 
ships. Nothing ever happened to them. This last one, 
the Apse Family, was to be like the others, only she was 
to be still stronger, still safer, still more roomy and com- 
fortable. I believe they meant her to last for ever. 
They had her built composite iron, teak-wood, and 
greenheart, and her scantling was something fabulous. 
If ever an order was given for a ship in a spirit of pride 
this one was. Everything of the best. The commodore 
captain of the employ was to command her, and they 
planned the accommodation for him like a house on 
shore under a big, tall poop that went nearly to the 
mainmast. No wonder Mrs. Colchester wouldn't let 
the old man give her up. Why, it was the best home 



THE BRUTE 111 

she ever had in all her married days. She had a nerve, 
that woman. 

"The fuss that was made while that ship was build- 
ing! Let's have this a little stronger, and that a little 
heavier; and hadn't that other thing better be changed 
for something a little thicker. The builders entered 
into the spirit of the game, and there she was, growing 
into the clumsiest, heaviest ship of her size right before 
all their eyes, without anybody becoming aware of it 
somehow. She was to be 2,000 tons register, or a little 
over; no less on any account. But see what happens. 
When they came to measure her she turned out 1,999 
tons and a fraction. General consternation! And they 
say old Mr. Apse was so annoyed when they told him 
that he took to his bed and died. The old gentleman 
had retired from the firm twenty-five years before, and 
was ninety-six years old if a day, so his death wasn't, 
perhaps, so surprising. Still Mr. Lucian Apse was con- 
vinced that his father would have lived to a hundred. 
So we may put him at the head of the list. Next 
comes the poor devil of a shipwright that brute caught 
and squashed as she went off the ways. They called 
it the launch of a ship, but I've heard people say that, 
from the wailing and yelling and scrambling out of the 
way, it was more like letting a devil loose upon the 
river. She snapped all her checks like pack-thread, and 
went for the tugs in attendance like a fury. Before 
anybody could see what she was up to she sent one 
of them to the bottom, and laid up another for three 
months' repairs. One of her cables parted, and then, 
suddenly you couldn't tell why she let herself be 
brought up with the other as quiet as a lamb. 

"That's how she was. You could never be sure 
what she would be up to next. There are ships difficult 
to handle, but generally you can depend on them behav- 



112 THE BRUTE 

ing rationally. With that ship, whatever you did with 
her you never knew how it would end. She was 
a wicked beast. Or, perhaps, she was only just in- 
sane." 

He uttered this supposition in so earnest a tone that 
I could not refrain from smiling. He left off biting his 
lower lip to apostrophize me. 

"Eh! Why not? Why couldn't there be something 

in her build, in her lines corresponding to What's 

madness? Only something just a tiny bit wrong in the 
make of your brain. Why shouldn't there be a mad 
ship I mean mad in a ship-like way, so that under no 
circumstances could you be sure she would do what any 
other sensible ship would naturally do for you. There 
are ships that steer wildly, and ships that can't be quite 
trusted always to stay; others want careful watching 
when running jn a gale; and, again, there may be 
a ship that will make heavy weather of it in e\tery 
little blow. But then you expect her to be always 
so. You take it as part of her character, as a ship, 
just as you take account of a man's peculiarities of 
temper when you deal with him. But with her you 
couldn't. She was unaccountable. If she wasn't mad, 
then she was the most evil-minded, underhand, savage 
brute that ever went afloat. I've seen her run in a heavy 
gale beautifully for two days, and on the third broach 
to twice in the same afternoon. The first time she 
flung the helmsman clean over the wheel, but as she 
didn't quite manage to kill him she had another try 
about three hours afterwards. She swamped herself 
fore and aft, burst all the canvas we had set, scared all 
hands into a panic, and even frightened Mrs. Colchester 
down there in these beautiful stern cabins that she was 
so proud of. When we mustered the crew there was 
one man missing. Swept overboard, of course, without 



THE BRUTE US 

being either seen or heard, poor devil! and I only wonder 
more of us didn't go. 

"Always something like that. Always. I heard an 
old mate tell Captain Colchester once that it had come 
to this with him, that he was afraid to open his mouth 
to give any sort of order. She was as much of a terror 
in harbour as at sea. You could never be certain what 
would hold her. On the slightest provocation she would 
start snapping ropes, cables, wire hawsers, like carrots. 
She was heavy, clumsy, unhandy but that does not 
quite explain that power for mischief she had. You 
know, somehow, when I think of her I can't help re- 
membering what we hear of incurable lunatics breaking 
loose now and then." 

He looked at me inquisitively. But, of course, 
I couldn't admit that a ship could be mad. 

"In the ports where she was known," he went on, 
"they dreaded the sight of her. She thought nothing of 
knocking away twenty feet or so of solid stone facing off 
a quay or wiping off the end of a wooden wharf. She 
must have lost miles of chain and hundreds of tons of 
anchors in her time. When she fell aboard some poor 
unoffending ship it was the very devil of a job to haul her 
off again. And she never got hurt herself just a few 
scratches or so, perhaps. They had wanted to have 
her strong. And so she was. Strong enough to ram 
Polar ice with. And as she began so she went on. 
From the day she was launched she never let a year pass 
without murdering somebody. I think the owners got 
very worried about it. But they were a stiff-necked 
generation all these Apses; they wouldn't admit there 
could be anything wrong with the Apse Family. They 
wouldn't even change her name. ' Stuff and nonsense,' 
as Mrs. Colchester used to say. They ought at least to 
have shut her up for life in some dry dock or other, away 



114 THE BRUTE 

up the river, and never let her smell salt water again. I 
assure you, my dear sir, that she invariably did kill 
someone every voyage she made. It was perfectly 
well-known. She got a name for it, far and wide." 

I expressed my surprise that a ship with such a 
deadly reputation could ever get a crew. 

"Then, you don't know what sailors are, ray dear sir. 
Let me just show you by an instance. One day in dock 
at home, while loafing on the forecastle head, I noticed 
two respectable salts come along, one a middle-aged, 
competent, steady man, evidently, the other a smart, 
youngish chap. They read the name on the bows and 
stopped to look at her. Says the elder man: 'Apse 
Family. That's the sanguinary female dog 5 (I'm 
putting it in that way) 'of a ship, Jack, that kills a 
man every voyage. I wouldn't sign in her not for 
Joe, I wouldn't.' And the other says: 'If she were 
mine, I'd have her towed on the mud and set on fire, 
blamme if I wouldn't/ Then the first man chimes in: 
'Much do they care! Men are cheap, God knows/ 
The younger one spat in the water alongside. 'They 
won't have me not for double wages.' 

"They hung about for some time and then walked up 
the dock. Half an hour later I saw them both on our 
deck looking about for the mate, and apparently very 
anxious to be taken on. And they were." 

"How do you account for this?" I asked. 

"What would you say?" he retorted. "Reckless- 
ness! The vanity of boasting in the evening to all their 
chums: 'We've just shipped in that there Apse Family. 
Blow her. She ain't going to scare us.' Sheer sailor- 
like perversity! A sort of curiosity. Well a little of 
all that, no doubt. I put the question to them in the 
course of the voyage. The answer of the elderly chap 
was: 



THE BRUTE 115 

"*A man can die but once/ The younger assured 
me in a mocking tone that he wanted to see 'how she 
would do it this time/ But I tell you what; there was 
a sort of fascination about the brute." 

Jermyn, who seemed to have seen every ship in the 
world, broke in sulkily: 

"I saw her once out of this very window towing up 
the river; a great black ugly thing, going along like a 
big hearse." 

"Something sinister about her looks, wasn't there?" 
said the man in tweeds, looking down at old Jermyn 
with a friendly eye. "I always had a sort of horror of 
her. She gave me a beastly shock when I was no more 
than fourteen, the very first day nay, hour I joined, 
her. Father came up to see me off, and was to go down 
to Gravesend with us. I was his second boy to go to 
sea. My big brother was already an officer then. We 
got on board about eleven in the morning, and found the 
ship ready to drop out of the basin, stern first. She 
had not moved three times her own length when, at 
a little pluck the tug gave her to enter the dock gates, 
she made one of her rampaging starts, and put such 
a weight on the check rope a new six-inch hawser 
that forward there they had no chance to ease it 
round in time, and it parted. I saw the broken end 
fly up high in the air, and the next moment that brute 
brought her quarter against the pier-head with a jar 
that staggered everybody about her decks. She didn't 
hurt herself. Not she ! But one of the boys the mate 
had sent aloft on the mizzen to do something, came 
down on the poop-deck thump right in front of me. 
He was not much older than myself. We had been 
grinning at each other only a few minutes before. He 
must have been handling himself carelessly, not expect* 
ing to get such a jerk. I heard his startled cry Oh! 



116 THE BRUTE 

in a Wgh treble as he felt himself going, and looked up 
in time to see him go limp all over as he fell. Ough! 
Poor father was remarkably white about the gills when 
we shook hands in Gravesend. 'Are you all right?' he 
says, looking hard at me. 'Yes, father/ 'Quite sure?' 
'Yes, father/ 'Well, then good-bye, my boy/ He told 
me afterwards that for half a word he would have carried 
me off home with him there and then. I am the baby 
of the family you know," added the man in tweeds, 
stroking his moustache with an ingenuous smile. 

I acknowledged this interesting communication by a 
sympathetic murmur. He waved his hand carelessly. 

"This might have utterly spoiled a chap's nerve for 
going aloft, you know utterly. He fell within two 
feet of me, cracking his head on a mooring-bitt. Never 
moved. Stone dead. Nice looking little fellow, he was. 
I had just been thinking we would be great chums. 
However, that wasn't yet the worst that brute of a fehip 
could do. I served In her three years of my time, and 
then I got transferred to the Lucy Apse, for a year. The 
sailmaker we had in the Apse Family turned up there, 
too, and I remember him saying to me one evening, after 
we had been a week at sea: 'Isn't she a meek little 
ship?' No wonder we thought the Lucy Apse a dear, 
meek, little ship after getting clear of that big, rampag- 
ing savage brute. It was like heaven. Her officers 
seemed to me the restfullest lot of men on earth. To me 
who had known no ship but the Apse Family, the Lucy 
was like a sort of magic craft that did what you wanted 
her to do of her own accord. One evening we got 
caught aback pretty sharply from right ahead. In about 
ten minutes we had her full again, sheets aft, tacks down, 
decks cleared, and the officer of the watch leaning 
against the weather rail peacefully. It seemed simply 
marvellous to me. The other would have stuck for half- 



THE BRUTE 117 

an-hour in irons, rolling her decks full of water, knock- 
ing the men about spars cracking, braces snapping, 
yards taking charge, and a confounded scare going on 
aft because of her beastly rudder, which she had a way 
of flapping about fit to raise your hair on end. I could- 
n't get over my wonder for days. 

"Well, I finished my last year of apprenticeship in 
that jolly little ship she wasn't so little either, but 
after that other heavy devil she seemed but a plaything 
to handle. I finished my time and passed; and then 
just as I was thinking of having three weeks of real 
good time on shore I got at breakfast a letter asking me 
the earliest day I could be ready to join the Apse Family 
as third mate. I gave my plate a shove that shot it 
into the middle of the table; dad looked up over his 
paper; mother raised her hands in astonishment, and I 
went out bare-headed into our bit of garden, where I 
walked round and round for an hour. 

"When I came in again mother was out of the 
dining-room, and dad had shifted berth into his big 
armchair. The letter was lying on the mantelpiece. 

"'It's very creditable to you to get the offer, and 
very kind of them to make it,' he said. 'And I see also 
that Charles has been appointed chief mate of that ship 
for one voyage.' 

"There was, over leaf, a P.S. to that effect in Mr. 
Apse's own handwriting, which I had overlooked. 
Charley was my big brother. 

"'I don't like very much to have two of my boys 
together in one ship,' father goes on, in his deliberate, 
solemn way. 'And I may tell you that I would not 
mind writing Mr. Apse a letter to that effect.' 

"Dear old dad! lie was a wonderful father. What 
would you have done? The mere notion of going back 
(and as an officer, too), to be worried and bothered, 



THE BRUTE 

and kept on the jump night and day by that brute, made 
me feel sick. But she wasn't a ship you could afford to 
fight shy of. Besides, the most genuine excuse could 
not be given without mortally offending Apse & Sons. 
The firm, and I believe the whole family down to the 
old unmarried aunts in Lancashire, had grown desper- 
ately touchy about that accursed ship's character. This 
was the case for answering 'Ready now' from your 
very death-bed if you wished to die in their good graces. 
And that's precisely what I did answer by wire, to 
have it over and done with at once. 

"The prospect of being shipmates with my big brother 
cheered me up considerably, though it made me a bit 
anxious, too. Ever since I remember myself as a little 
chap he had been very good to me, and I looked upon 
him as the finest fellow in the world. And so he was. 
No better officer ever walked the deck of a merchant 
ship. And that's a fact. He was a fine, strong, .up- 
standing, sun-tanned, young fellow, with his brown hair 
curling a little, and an eye like a hawk. He was just 
splendid. We hadn't seen each other for many years, 
and even this time, though he had been in England 
three weeks already, he hadn't showed up at home yet, 
but had spent his spare time in Surrey somewhere mak- 
ing up to Maggie Colchester, old Captain Colchester's 
niece. Her father, a great friend of dad's, was in the 
sugar-broking business, and Charley made a sort of 
second home of their house. I wondered what my big 
brother would think of me. There was a sort of stern- 
ness about Charley's face which never left it, not even 
when he was larking in his rather wild fashion. 

"He received me with a great shout of laughter. 
He seemed to think my joining as an officer the greatest 
joke in the world. There was a difference of ten years 
between us, and I suppose he remembered me best in 



THE BRUTE 119 

pinafores. I was a kid of four when he first went to sea. 
It surprised me to find how boisterous he could be. 

" 'Now we shall see what you are made of/ he cried. 
And he held me off by the shoulders, and punched my 
ribs, and hustled me into his berth. *Sit down, Ned. I 
am glad of the chance of having you with me. I'll put 
the finishing touch to you, my young officer, providing 
you're worth the trouble. And, first of all, get it well 
into your head that we are not going to let this brute 
kill anybody this voyage. We'll stop her racket.' 

"I perceived he was in dead earnest about it. He 
talked grimly of the ship, and how we must be careful 
and never allow this ugly beast to catch us napping 
with any of her damned tricks. 

"He gave me a regular lecture on special seamanship 
for the use of the Apse Family; then changing his tone, 
he began to talk at large, rattling off the wildest, 
funniest nonsense, till my sides ached with laughing. I 
could see very well he was a bit above himself with high 
spirits. It couldn't be because of my coming. Not to 
that extent. But, of course, I wouldn't have dreamt of 
asking what was the matter. I had a proper respect 
for my big brother, I can tell you. But it was all made 
plain enough a day or two afterwards, when I heard 
that Miss Maggie Colchester was coming for the voy- 
age. Uncle was giving her a sea-trip for the benefit of 
her health. 

"I don't know what could have been wrong with her 
health. She had a beautiful colour, and a deuce of a 
lot of fair hair. She didn't care a rap for wind, or rain, 
or spray, or sun, or green seas, or anything. She was a 
blue-eyed, jolly girl of the very best sort, but the way 
she cheeked my big brother used to frighten me. I 
always expected it to end in an awful row. However, 
nothing decisive happened till after we had been in 



120 THE BRUTE 

Sydney for a week. One day, in the men's dinner hour, 
Charley sticks his head into my cabin. I was stretched 
out on my back on the settee, smoking in peace. 

"'Come ashore with me, Ned/ he says, in his curt 
way. 

"I jumped up, of course, and away after him down 
the gangway and up George Street. He strode along 
like a giant, and I at his elbow, panting. It was con- 
foundedly hot. 'Where on earth are you rushing me 
to, Charley?' I made bold to ask. 

" 'Here,' he says. 

"'Here' was a jeweller's shop. I couldn't imagine 
what he could want there. It seemed a sort of mad 
freak. He thrusts under my nose three rings, which 
looked very tiny on his big, brown palm, growling out 

'"For Maggie! Which?' 

"I got a kind of scare at this. I couldn't make a 
sound, but I pointed at the one that sparkled white and 
blue. He put it in his waistcoat pocket, paid for it with 
a lot of sovereigns, and bolted out. When we got on 
board I was quite out of breath. 'Shake hands, old 
chap,' I gasped out. He gave me a thump on the back. 
'Give what orders you like to the boatswain when the 
hands turn -to,' says he; 'I am off duty this afternoon.' 

"Then he vanished from the deck for a while, but 
presently he came out of the cabin with Maggie, and 
these two went over the gangway publicly, before all 
hands, going for a walk together on that awful, blazing 
hot day, with clouds of dust flying about. They came 
back after a few hours looking very staid, but didn't 
seem to have the slightest idea where they had been. 
Anyway, that's the answer they both made to Mrs. 
Colchester's question at tea-time. 

"And didn't she turn on Charley, with her voice 
like an old night cabman's! 'Rubbish. Don't know 



THE BRUTE 121 

where you've been! Stuff and nonsense. You've 
walked the girl off her legs. Don't do it again.' 

"It's surprising how meek Charley could be with 
that old woman. Only on one occasion he whispered to 
me, Tm jolly glad she isn't Maggie's aunt, except by 
marriage. That's no sort of relationship.' But I 
think he let Maggie have too much of her own way. 
She was hopping all over that ship in her yachting skirt 
and a red tarn o' shanter like a bright bird on a dead 
black tree. The old salts used to grin to themselves 
when they saw her coming along, and offered to teach 
her knots or splices. I believe she liked the men, for 
Charley's sake, I suppose. 

"As you may imagine, the fiendish propensities of 
that cursed ship were never spoken of on board. Not 
in the cabin, at any rate. Only once on the home- 
ward passage Charley said, incautiously, something 
about bringing all her crew home this time. Captain 
Colchester began to look uncomfortable at once, and 
that silly, hard-bitten old woman flew out at Charley as 
though he had said something indecent. I was quite 
confounded myself; as to Maggie, she sat completely 
mystified, opening her blue eyes very wide. Of course, 
before she was a day older she wormed it all out of me. 
She was a very difficult person to lie to. 

"'How awful/ she said, quite solemn. 'So many 
poor fellows. I am glad the voyage is nearly over. I 
won't have a moment's peace about Charley now/ 

"I assured her Charley was all right. It took more 
than that ship knew to get over a seaman like Charley. 
And she agreed with me. 

"Next day we got the tug off Dungeness; and when 
the tow-rope was fast Charley rubbed his hands and 
said to me in an undertone 

"'We've baffled her, Ned.' 



THE BRUTE 

" 'Looks like it,' I said, with a grin at him. It was 
beautiful weather, and the sea as smooth as a millpond. 
We went up the river without a shadow of trouble 
except once, when off Hole Haven, the brute took a 
sudden sheer and nearly had a barge anchored just clear 
of the fairway. But I was aft, looking after the steer- 
ing, and she did not catch me napping that time. 
Charley came up on the poop, looking very concerned. 
'Close shave/ says he. 

"'Never mind, Charley/ I answered, cheerily. 
'You've tamed her/ 

"We were to tow right up to the dock. The river 
pilot boarded us below Gravesend, and the first words 
I heard him say were: 'You may just as well take your 
port anchor inboard at once, Mr. Mate/ 

"This had been done when I went forward. I saw 
Maggie on the forecastle head enjoying the bustle 
and I begged her to go aft, but she took no notice of me, 
of course. Then Charley, who was very busy with the 
head gear, caught sight of her and shouted in his biggest 
voice: 'Get off the forecastle head, Maggie. You're in 
the way here/ For all answer she made a funny face at 
him, and I saw poor Charley turn away, hiding a smile. 
She was flushed with the excitement of getting home 
again, and her blue eyes seemed to snap electric sparks 
as she looked at the river. A collier brig had gone 
round just ahead of us, and our tug had to stop her 
engines in a hurry to avoid running into her. 

"In a moment, as is usually the case, all the shipping 
in the reach seemed to get into a hopeless tangle. A 
schooner and a ketch got up a small collision all to 
themselves right in the middle of the river. It was 
exciting to watch, and, meantime, our tug remained 
stopped. Any other ship than that brute could have 
been coaxed to keep straight for a couple of minutes 



THE BRUTE 123 

but not she! Her head fell off at once, and she began 
to drift down, taking her tug along with her. I noticed 
a cluster of coasters at anchor within a quarter of a mile 
of us, and I thought I had better speak to the pilot. 
'If you let her get amongst that lot,' I said, quietly, 'she 
will grind some of them to bits before we get her out 
again.' 

"'Don't I know her!' cries he, stamping his foot 
in a perfect fury. And he out with his whistle to 
make that bothered tug get the ship's head up again 
as quick as possible. He blew like mad, waving his 
arm to port, and presently we could see that the tug's 
engines had been set going ahead. Her paddles 
churned the water, but it was as if she had been trying 
to tow a rock she couldn't get an inch out of that ship. 
Again the pilot blew his whistle, and waved his arm to 
port. We could see the tug's paddles turning faster and 
faster away, broad on our bow. 

"For a moment tug and ship hung motionless in a 
crowd of moving shipping, and then the terrific strain 
that evil, stony-hearted brute would always put on 
everything, tore the towing-chock clean out. The 
tow-rope surged over, snapping the iron stanchions ot 
the head-rail one after another as if they had been 
sticks of sealing-wax. It was only then I noticed that 
in order to have a better view over our heads, Maggie 
had stepped upon the port anchor as it lay flat on the 
forecastle deck. 

"It had been lowered properly into its hardwood 
beds, but there had been no time to take a turn with 
it. Anyway, it was quite secure as it was, for going 
into dock; but I could see directly that the tow-rope 
would sweep under the fluke in another second. My 
heart flew up right into my throat, but not before I had 
time to yell out: 'Jump clear of that anchor!' 



124 THE BRUTE 

"But I hadn't time to shriek out her name. I don't 
suppose she heard me at all. The first touch of the 
hawser against the fluke threw her down; she was up 
on her feet again quick as lightning, but she was up on 
the wrong side. I heard a horrid, scraping sound, and 
then that anchor, tipping over, rose up like something 
alive; its great, rough iron arm caught Maggie round 
the waist, seemed to clasp her close with a dreadful 
hug, and flung itself with her over and down in a 
terrific clang of iron, followed by heavy ringing blows 
that shook the ship from stem to stern because the 
ring stopper held!" 

"How horrible!" I exclaimed. 

"I used to dream for years afterwards of anchors 
catching hold of girls," said the man in tweeds, a 
little wildly. He shuddered. "With a most pitiful 
howl Charley was over after her almost on the instant. 
But, Lord! he didn't see as much as a gleam of her r 9 ed 
tarn o' shanter in the water. Nothing! nothing what- 
ever! In a moment there were half-a-dozen boats 
around us, and he got pulled into one. I, with the 
boatswain and the carpenter, let go the other anchor in 
a hurry and brought the ship up somehow. The pilot 
had gone silly. He walked up and down the forecastle 
head wringing his hands and muttering to himself: 
'Killing women, now! Killing women, now!' Not 
another word could you get out of him. 

"Dusk fell, then a night black as pitch; and peering 
upon the river I heard ai low, mournful hail, 'Ship, 
ahoy!' Two Gravesend watermen came alongside. 
They had a lantern in their wherry, and looked up the 
ship's side, holding on to the ladder without a word. I 
saw in the patch of light a lot of loose, fair hair down 
there." 

He shuddered again. 



THE BRUTE 125 

"After the tide turned poor Maggie's body had 
floated clear of one of them big mooring buoys," he 
explained. "I crept aft, feeling half -dead, and managed 
to send a rocket up to let the other searchers know, 
on the river. And then I slunk away forward like 
a cur, and spent the night sitting on the heel of the 
bowsprit so as to be as far as possible out of Charley's 
way." 

"Poor fellow!" I murmured. 

"Yes. Poor fellow," he repeated, musingly. "That 
brute wouldn't let him not even him cheat her of 
her prey. But he made her fast in dock next morning. 
He did. We hadn't exchanged a word not a single 
look for that matter. I didn't want to look at him. 
When the last rope was fast he put his hands to his 
head and stood gazing down at his feet as if trying to 
remember something. The men waited on the main 
deck for the words that end the voyage. Perhaps that 
is what he was trying to remember. I spoke for him. 
That'll do, men.' 

"I never saw a crew leave a ship so quietly. They 
sneaked over the rail one after another, taking care not 
to bang their sea chests too heavily. They looked our 
way, but not one had the stomach to come up and offer 
to shake hands with the mate as is usual. 

"I followed him all over the empty ship to and fro, 
here and there, with no living soul about but the two of 
us, because the old ship-keeper had locked himself up 
in the galley both doors. Suddenly poor Charley 
mutters, in a crazy voice: "I'm done here,' and strides 
down the gangway with me at his heels, up the dock, 
out at the gate, on towards Tower Hill. He used to 
take rooms with a decent old landlady in America 
Square, to be near his work. 

"All at once he stops short, turns round, and comes 



126 THE BRUTE 

back straight at me. 'Ned/ says he, *I am going home/ 
I had the good luck to sight a four-wheeler and got him 
in just in time. His legs were beginning to give way. 
In our hall he fell down on a chair, and I'll never forget 
father's and mother's amazed, perfectly still faces as 
they stood over him. They couldn't understand what 
had happened to him till I blubbered out, |* Maggie got) 
drowned, yesterday, in the river.' 

"Mother let out a little cry. Father looks from him 
to me, and from me to him, as if comparing our faces 
for, upon my soul, Charley did not resemble himself at 
all. Nobody moved; and the poor fellow raises his big 
brown hands slowly to his throat, and with one single 
tug rips everything open collar, shirt, waistcoat a 
perfect wreck and ruin of a man. Father and I got him 
upstairs somehow, and mother pretty nearly killed her- 
self nursing him- through a brain fever." 

The man in tweeds nodded at me significantly. 

"Ah! there was nothing that could be done with that 
brute. She had a devil in her." 

"Where's your brother?" I asked, expecting to 
hear he was dead. But he was commanding a smart 
steamer on the China coast, and never came home now. 

Jermyn fetched a heavy sigh, and the handkerchief 
being now sufficiently dry, put it up tenderly to his red 
and lamentable nose. 

"She was a ravening beast," the man in tweeds 
started again. "Old Colchester put his foot down and 
resigned. And would you believe it? Apse & Sons 
wrote to ask whether he wouldn't reconsider his de- 
cision! Anything to save the good name of the Apse 
Family! Old Colchester went to the office then and 
said that he would take charge again but only to sail her 
out into the North Sea and scuttle her there. He was 
nearly off his chump. He used to be darkish iron-grey,, 



THE BRUTE 127 

but his hair went snow-white in a fortnight. And Mr. 
Lucian Apse (they had known each other as young men) 
pretended not to notice it. Eh? Here's infatuation 
if you like! Here's pride for you! 

"They jumped at the first man they could get to 
take her, for fear of the scandal of the Apse Family not 
being able to find a skipper. He was a festive soul, I 
believe, but he stuck to her grim and hard. Wilmot 
was his second mate. A harum-scarum fellow, and 
pretending to a great scorn for all the girls. The fact is 
he was really timid. But let only one of them do as 
much as lift her little finger in encouragement, and there 
was nothing that could hold the beggar. As apprentice, 
once, he deserted abroad after a petticoat, and would 
have gone to the dogs then, if his skipper hadn't taken 
the trouble to find him and lug him by the ears out of 
some house of perdition or other. 

"It was said that one of the firm had been heard once 
to express a hope that this brute of a ship would get 
lost soon. I can hardly credit the tale, unless it might 
have been Mr. Alfred Apse, whom the family didn't 
think much of. They had him in the office, but he was 
considered a bad egg altogether, always flying off to 
race meetings and coming home drunk. You would 
have thought that a ship so full of deadly tricks would 
run herself ashore some day out of sheer cussedness. 
But not she ! She was going to last for ever. She had 
a nose to keep off the bottom." 

Jermyn made a grunt of approval. 

"A ship after a pilot's own heart, eh?" jeered the 
man in tweeds. "Well, Wilmot managed it. He was 
the man for it, but even he, perhaps, couldn't have done 
the trick without the green-eyed governess, or nurse, or 
whatever she was to the children of Mr. and Mrs. 
Pamphilius. 



128 THE BRUTE 

"Those people were passengers in her from Port 
Adelaide to the Cape. Well, the ship went out and 
anchored outside for the day. The skipper hospitable 
soul had a lot of guests from town to a farewell lunch 
as usual with him. It was five in the evening before 
the last shore boat left the side, and the weather looked 
ugly and dark in the gulf. There was no reason for him 
to get under way. However, as he had told everybody 
he was going that day, he imagined it was proper to do 
so anyhow. But as he had no mind after all these 
festivities to tackle the straits in the dark, with a scant 
wind, he gave orders to keep the ship under lower 
topsails and foresail as close as she would lie, dodging 
along the land till the morning. Then he sought his 
virtuous couch. The mate was on deck, having his 
face washed very clean with hard rain squalls. Wilmot 
relieved him at midnight. 

"The Apse Family had, as you observed, a house on 
her poop . . ." 

"A big, ugly white thing, sticking up," Jermyn mur- 
mured, sadly, at the fire. 

"That's it: a companion for the cabin stairs and a 
sort of chart-room combined. The rain drove in gusts 
on the sleepy Wilmot. The ship was then surging 
slowly to the southward, close hauled, with the coast 
within three miles or so to windward. There was noth- 
ing to look out for in that part of the gulf, and Wilmot 
went round to dodge the squalls under the lee of that 
chart-room, whose door on that side was open. The 
night was black, like a barrel of coal-tar. And then 
he heard a woman's voice whispering to him. 

"That confounded green-eyed girl of the Pamphilius 
people had put the kids to bed a long time ago, of 
course, but it seems couldn't get to sleep herself. She 
heard eight bells struck, and the chief mate come below 



THE BRUTE 129 

to turn in. She waited a bit, then got into her dressing- 
gown and stole across the empty saloon and up the 
stairs into the chart-room. She sat down on the settee 
near the open door to cool herself, I daresay. 

"I suppose when she whispered to Wilmot it was as 
if somebody had struck a match in the fellow's brain. 
I don't know how it was they had got so very thick. 
I fancy he had met her ashore a few times before. I 
couldn't make it out, because, when telling the story, 
Wilmot would break off to swear something awful at 
every second word. We had met on the quay in Sydney, 
and he had an apron of sacking up to his chin, a big 
whip in his hand. A wagon-driver. Glad to do any- 
thing not to starve. That's what he had come down to. 

"However, there he was, with his head inside the 
door, on the girl's shoulder as likely as not officer of 
the watch! The helmsman, on giving his evidence 
afterwards, said that he shouted several times that the 
binnacle lamp had gone out. It didn't matter to him, 
because his orders were to 'sail her close.' 'I thought 
it funny,' he said, 'that the ship should keep on falling 
off in squalls, but I luffed her up every time as close 
as I was able. It was so dark I couldn't see my hand 
before my face, and the rain came in bucketfuls on my 
head.' 

"The truth was that at every squall the wind hauled 
aft a little, till gradually the ship came to be heading 
straight for the coast, without a single soul in her being 
aware of it. Wilmot himself confessed that he had not 
been near the standard compass for an hour. He might 
well have confessed! The first thing he knew was the 
man on the look-out shouting blue murder forward 
there. 

"He tore his neck free, he says, and yelled back at 
him: 'What do you say?* 



130 THE BRUTE 

" 'I think I hear breakers ahead, sir,' howled the man, 
and came rushing aft with the rest of the watch, in the 
'awfullest blinding deluge that ever fell from the sky/ 
Wilmot says. For a second or so he was so scared and 
bewildered that he could not remember on which side of 
the gulf the ship was. He wasn't a good officer, but he 
was a seaman all the same. He pulled himself together 
in a second, and the right orders sprang to his lips 
without thinking. They were to hard up with the helm 
and shiver the main and mizzen -topsails. 

"It seems that the sails actually fluttered. He 
couldn't see them, but he heard them rattling and bang- 
ing above his head. 'No use! She was too slow in 
going off,' he went on, his dirty face twitching, and the 
damn'd carter's whip shaking in his hand. 'She seemed 
to stick fast/ And then the flutter of the canvas above 
his head ceased. At this critical moment the wind 
hauled aft again with a gust, filling the sails and send- 
ing the ship with a great way upon the rocks on her 
lee bow. She had overreached herself in her last little 
game. Her time had come the hour, the man, the 
black night, the treacherous gust of wind the right 
woman to put an end to her. The brute deserved 
nothing better. Strange are the instruments of Provi- 
dence. There's a sort of poetical justice " 

The man in tweeds looked hard at me. 

"The first ledge she went over stripped the false keel 
off her. Rip! The skipper, rushing out of his berth, 
found a crazy woman, in a red flannel dressing-gown, 
flying round and round the cuddy, screeching like a 
cockatoo. 

"The next bump knocked her clean under the cabin 
table. It also started the stern-post and carried away 
the rudder, and then that brute ran up a shelving, 
rocky shore, tearing her bottom out, till she stopped 



THE BRUTE 131 

short, and the foremast dropped over the bows like a 
gangway." 

"Anybody lost?" I asked. 

"No one, unless that fellow, Wilmot," answered the 
gentleman, unknown to Miss Blank, looking round for 
his cap. "And his case was worse than drowning for a 
man. Everybody got ashore all right. Gale didn't 
come on till next day, dead from the West, and broke up 
that brute in a surprisingly short time. It was as 
though she had been rotten at heart." ... He 
"changed his tone, "Rain left off? I must get my bike 
and rush home to dinner. I live in Herne Bay came 
out for a spin this morning." 

He nodded at me in a friendly way, and went out 
with a swagger. 

"Do you know who he is, Jermyn?" I asked. 

The North Sea pilot shook his head, dismally. 
"Fancy losing a ship in that silly fashion! Oh, dear! 
oh dear!" he groaned in lugubrious tones, spreading 
his damp handkerchief again like a curtain before the 
glowing grate. 

On going out I exchanged a glance and a smile 
(strictly proper) with the respectable Miss Blank, bar- 
maid of the Three Crows. 



A DESPERATE TALE 



AN ANARCHIST 

THAT year I spent the best two months of the dry 
season on one of the estates in fact, on the principal 
cattle estate of a famous meat-extract manufacturing 
company. 

B.O.S. Bos. You have seen the three magic letters 
on the advertisement pages of magazines and news- 
papers, in the windows of provision merchants, and on 
calendars for next year you receive by post in the month 
of November. They scatter pamphlets also, written in 
a sickly enthusiastic style and in several languages, 
giving statistics of slaughter and bloodshed enough 
to make a Turk turn faint. The "art" illustrating that 
"literature" represents in vivid and shining colours a 
large and enraged black bull stamping upon a yellow 
snake writhing in emerald-green grass, with a cobalt- 
blue sky for a background. It is atrocious and it is an 
allegory. The snake symbolizes disease, weakness 
perhaps mere hunger, which last is the chronic disease 
of the majority of mankind. Of course everybody 
knows the B. O. S. Ltd., with its unrivalled products: 
Vinobos, Jelly bos, and the latest unequalled perfection, 
Tribos, whose nourishment is offered to you not only 
highly concentrated, but already half digested. Such 
apparently is the love that Limited Company bears to 
its f ellowmen even as the love of the father and mother 
penguin for their hungry fledglings. 

Of course the capital of a country must be pro- 
ductively employed. I have nothing to say against the 

135 



136 AN ANARCHIST 

company. But being myself animated by feelings of 
affection towards my fellow-men, I am saddened by the 
modern system of advertising. Whatever evidence it 
offers of enterprise, ingenuity, impudence, and resource 
in certain individuals, it proves to my mind the wide 
prevalence of that form of mental degradation which is 
called gullibility. 

In various parts of the civilized and uncivilized world 
I have had to swallow B. O. S. with more or less benefit 
to myself, though without great pleasure. Prepared 
with hot water and abundantly peppered to bring out 
the taste, this extract is not really unpalatable. But I 
have never swallowed its advertisements. Perhaps 
they have not gone far enough. As far as I can re- 
member they make no promise of everlasting youth to 
the users of B. 0. S., nor yet have they claimed the 
power of raising the dead for their estimable products. 
iWhy this austere reserve, I wonder? But I don't thilik 
they would have had me even on these terms. What- 
ever form of mental degradation I may (being but hu- 
man) be suffering from, it is not the popular form. I 
am not gullible. 

I have been at some pains to bring out distinctly this 
statement about myself in view of the story which 
follows, I have checked the facts as far as possible. 
I have turned up the files of French newspapers, and I 
have also talked with the officer who commands the 
military guard on the lie Royale, when in the course of 
my travels I reached Cayenne. I believe the story to be 
in the main true. It is the sort of story that no man, I 
think, would ever invent about himself, for it is neither 
grandiose nor flattering, nor yet funny enough to 
gratify a perverted vanity. 

It concerns the engineer of the steam-launch belong- 
ing to the Maranon cattle estate of the B. O. S. Co., Ltd- 



AN ANARCHIST 137 

This estate is also an island an island as big as a small 
province, lying in the estuary of a great South American 
river. It is wild and not beautiful, but the grass grow- 
ing on its low plains seems to possess exceptionally 
nourishing and flavouring qualities. It resounds with 
the lowing of innumerable herds a deep and distress- 
ing sound under the open sky, rising like a monstrous 
protest of prisoners condemned to death. On the 
mainland, across twenty miles of discoloured muddy 
water, there stands a city whose name, let us say, is 
Horta. 

But the most interesting characteristic of this island 
(which seems like a sort of penal settlement for con- 
demned cattle) consists in its being the only known 
habitat of an extremely rare and gorgeous butterfly. 
The species is even more rare than it is beautiful, which 
is not saying little. I have already alluded to my 
travels. I travelled at that time, but strictly for my- 
self and with a moderation unknown in our days of 
round-the-world tickets. I even travelled with a pur- 
pose. As a matter of fact, I am "Ha, ha, ha! a 
desperate butterfly-slayer. Ha, ha, ha!" 

This was the tone in which Mr. Harry Gee, the 
manager of the cattle station, alluded to my pursuits. 
He seemed to consider me the greatest absurdity in the 
world. On the other hand, the B. O. S. Co., Ltd., 
represented to him the acme of the nineteenth century's 
achievement. I believe that he slept in his leggings and 
spurs. His days he spent in the saddle flying over the 
plains, followed by a train of half-wild horsemen, who 
called him Don Enrique, and who had no definite idea of 
the B. O. S. Co., Ltd., which paid their wages. He was 
an excellent manager, but I don't see why, when we met 
at meals, he should have thumped me on the back, with 
loud, derisive inquiries: "How's the deadly sport 



138 AN ANARCHIST 

to-day? Butterflies going strong? Ha, ha, ha!" 
especially as he charged me two dollars per diem for the 
hospitality of the B. O. S. Co., Ltd., (capital 1,500,000, 
fully paid up), in whose balance-sheet for that year 
those monies are no doubt included. "I don't think I 
can make it anything less in justice to my company," 
he had remarked, with extreme gravity, when I was 
arranging with him the terms of my stay on the island. 

His chaff would have been harmless enough if 
intimacy of intercourse in the absence of all friendly 
feeling were not a thing detestable in itself. Moreover, 
his facetiousness was not very amusing. It consisted 
in the wearisome repetition of descriptive phrases 
applied to people with a burst of laughter. "Desperate 
butterfly -slayer. Ha, ha, ha!" was one sample of his 
peculiar wit which he himself enjoyed so much. And in 
the same vein ot exquisite humour he called my at- 
tention to the engineer of the steam-launch, one day, as 
we strolled on the path by the side of the creek. 

The man's head and shoulders emerged above the 
deck, over which were scattered various tools of his 
trade and a few pieces of machinery. He was doing 
some repairs to the engines. At the sound of our foot- 
steps he raised anxiously a grimy face with a pointed 
chin and a tiny fair moustache. What could be seen of 
his delicate features under the black smudges appeared 
to me wasted and livid in the greenish shade of the 
enormous tree spreading its foliage over the launch 
moored close to the bank. 

To my great surprise, Harry Gee addressed him as 
"Crocodile," in that half -jeering, half -bullying tone 
which is characteristic of self-satisfaction in his delect- 
able kind : 

"How does the work get on, Crocodile?" 

I should have said before that the amiable Harry had 



AN ANARCHIST 139 

picked up French of a sort somewhere in some colony 
or other and that he pronounced it with a disagreeable 
forced precision as though he meant to guy the lan- 
guage. The man in the launch answered him quickly in 
a pleasant voice. His eyes had a liquid softness and 
his teeth flashed dazzlingly white between his thin, 
drooping lips. The manager turned to me, very cheer- 
ful and loud, explaining: 

"I call him Crocodile because he lives half in, half 
out of the creek. Amphibious see? There's nothing 
else amphibious living on the island except crocodiles; 
so he must belong to the species eh? But in reality 
he's nothing less than un citoyen anarchisle de Bar- 
celone" 

"A citizen anarchist from Barcelona?" I repeated, 
stupidly, looking down at the man. He had turned to 
his work in the engine-well of the launch and presented 
his bowed back to us. In that attitude I heard him 
protest, very audibly: 

"I do not even know Spanish." 

"Hey? What? You dare to deny you come from 
over there?" the accomplished manager was down on 
him truculently. 

At this the man straightened himself up, dropping a 
spanner he had been using, and faced us; but he trem- 
bled in all his limbs. 

"I deny nothing, nothing, nothing!" he said, ex- 
citedly. 

He picked up the spanner and went to work again 
without paying any further attention to us. After 
looking at him for a minute or so, we went away. 

"Is he really an anarchist?" I asked, when out of 
ear-shot. 

"I don't care a hang what he is," answered the 
humorous official of the B. O. S. Co. "I gave him the 



140 AN ANARCHIST 

name because it suited me to label him in that way. 
It's good for the company." 

"For the company!" I exclaimed, stopping short. 

"Aha!" he triumphed, tilting up his hairless pug 
face and straddling his thin, long legs. "That sur- 
prises you. I am bound to do my best for my company. 
They have enormous expenses. Why our agent in 
Horta tells me they spend fifty thousand pounds every 
year in advertising all over the world! One can't be 
too economical in working the show. Well, just you 
listen. When I took charge here the estate had no 
steam-launch. I asked for one, and kept on asking 
by every mail till I got it; but the man they sent out 
with it chucked his job at the end of two months, leav- 
ing the launch moored at the pontoon in Horta. Got a 
better screw at a sawmill up the river blast him ! And 
ever since it has .been the same thing. Any Scotch or 
Yankee vagabond that likes to call himself a mechanic 
out here gets eighteen pounds a month, and the next 
you know he's cleared out, after smashing something 
as likely as not. I give you my word that some of the 
objects I've had for engine-drivers couldn't tell the 
boiler from the funnel. But this fellow understands his 
trade, and I don't mean him to clear out. See?" 

And he struck me lightly on the chest for emphasis. 
Disregarding his peculiarities of manner, I wanted to 
know what all this had to do with the man being an 
anarchist. 

" Come ! " jeered the manager. " If you saw suddenly 
a barefooted, unkempt chap slinking amongst the 
bushes on the sea face of the island, and at the same 
time observed less than a mile from the beach, a small 
schooner full of niggers hauling off in a hurry, you 
wouldn't think the man fell there from the sky, would 
you? And it could be nothing else but either that or 



AN ANARCHIST 141 

Cayenne. I've got my wits about me. Directly I 
sighted this queer game I said to myself * Escaped 
Convict.' I was as certain of it as I am of seeing you 
standing here this minute. So I spurred on straight at 
him. He stood his ground for a bit on a sand hillock 
crying out: * Monsieur ! Monsieur ! Arretez /' then at 
the last moment broke and ran for life. Says I to 
myself, Til tame you before I'm done with you.' So 
without a single word I kept on, heading him off here 
and there. I rounded him up towards the shore, and at 
last I had him corralled on a spit, his heels in the water 
and nothing but sea and sky at his back, with my horse 
pawing the sand and shaking his head within a yard 
of him. 

"He folded his arms on his breast then and stuck his 
chin up in a sort of desperate way; but I wasn't to be 
impressed by the beggar's posturing. 

"Says I, 'You're a runaway convict.' 

"When he heard French, his chin went down and 
his face changed. 

"*I deny nothing,' says he, panting yet, for I had 
kept him skipping about in front of my horse pretty 
smartly. I asked him what he was doing there. He 
had got his breath by then, and explained that he had 
meant to make his way to a farm which he understood 
(from the schooner's people, I suppose) was to be found 
in the neighbourhood. At that I laughed aloud and he 
got uneasy. Had he been deceived? Was there no 
farm within walking distance? 

"I laughed more and more. He was on foot, and of 
course the first bunch of cattle he came across would 
have stamped him to rags under their hoofs. A dis- 
mounted man caught on the feeding-grounds hasn't got 
the ghost of a chance. 

" 'My coming upon you like this has certainly saved 



142 AN ANARCHIST 

your life/ I said. He remarked that perhaps it was so; 
but that for his part he had imagined I had wanted to 
kill him under the hoofs of iny horse. I assured him 
that nothing would have been easier had I meant it. 
And then we came to a sort of dead stop. For the life 
of me I didn't know what to do with this convict, unless 
I chucked him into the sea. It occurred to me to ask 
him what he had been transported for. He hung his 
head. 

"'What is it?' says I. 'Theft, murder, rape, or 
what?' I wanted to hear what he would have to say 
for himself, though of course I expected it would be some 
sort of lie. But all he said was 

" 'Make it what you like. I deny nothing. It is no 
good denying anything.' 

"I looked him over carefully and a thought struck 
me. 

"'They've got anarchists there, too,' I said. 'Per- 
haps you're one of them.' 

"'I deny nothing whatever, monsieur,' he repeats. 

"This answer made me think that perhaps he was not 
an anarchist. I believe those damned lunatics are 
rather proud of themselves. If he had been one, he 
would have probably confessed straight out. 

"'What were you before you became a convict?' 

"'Ouvrier,' he says. 'And a good workman, too.' 

"At that I began to think he must be an anarchist, 
after all. That's the class they come mostly from, isn't 
it? I hate the cowardly bomb-throwing brutes. I 
almost made up my mind to turn my horse short round 
and leave him to starve or drown where he was, which- 
ever he liked best. As to crossing the island to bother 
me again, the cattle would see to that. I don't know 
what induced me to ask 

"'What sort of workman?' 



AN ANARCHIST 143 

"I didn't care a hang whether he answered me or 
not. But when he said at once, * Mecanicien, monsieur, 9 
I nearly jumped out of the saddle with excitement. The 
launch had been lying disabled and idle in the creek for 
three weeks. My duty to the company was clear. He 
noticed my start, too, and there we were for a minute or 
so staring at each other as if bewitched. 

"'Get up on my horse behind me,' I told him. 'You 
shall put my steam-launch to rights.'" 

These are the words in which the worthy manager 
of the Maranon estate related to me the coming of the 
supposed anarchist, lie meant to keep him out of a 
sense of duty to the company and the name he had 
given him would prevent the fellow from obtaining 
employment anywhere in Horta. The vaqueros of the 
estate, when they went on leave, spread it all over the 
town. They did not know what an anarchist was, nor 
yet what Barcelona meant. They called him Anarchisto 
de Barcelona, as if it were his Christian name and sur- 
name. But the people in town had been reading in 
their papers about the anarchists in Europe and were 
very much impressed. Over the jocular addition of 
"de Barcelona" Mr. Harry Gee chuckled with immense 
satisfaction. "That breed is particularly murderous, 
isn't it? It makes the sawmills crowd still more afraid 
of having anything to do with him see?" he exulted, 
candidly. "I hold him by that name better than if I 
had him chained up by the leg to the deck of the steam- 
launch. 

"And mark," he added, after a pause, "he does not 
deny it. I am not wronging him in any way. He is a 
convict of some sort, anyhow." 

"But I suppose you pay him some wages, don't you? " 
I asked. 



144 AN ANARCHIST 

"Wages! What does he want with money here? 
He gets his food from my kitchen and his clothing from 
the store. Of course I'll give him something at the end 
of the year, but you don't think I'd employ a convict 
and give him the same money I would give an honest 
man? I am looking after the interests of my company 
first and last." 

I admitted that, for a company spending fifty 
thousand pounds every year in advertising, the strictest 
economy was obviously necessary. The manager of 
the Maranon Estancia grunted approvingly. 

"And I'll tell you what," he continued: "if I were 
certain he's an anarchist and he had the cheek to ask me 
for money, I would give him the toe of my boot. How- 
ever, let him have the benefit of the doubt. I am per- 
fectly willing to take it that he has done nothing worse 
than to stick a knife into somebody with extenuating 
circumstances French fashion, don't you know. But 
that subversive sanguinary rot of doing away with all 
law and order in the world makes my blood boil. It's 
simply cutting the ground from under the feet of every 
decent, respectable, hard-working person. I tell you 
that the consciences of people who have them, like you 
or I, must be protected in some way; or else the first 
low scoundrel that came along would in every respect be 
just as good as myself. Wouldn't he, now? And that's 
absurd!" 

He glared at me. I nodded slightly and murmured 
that doubtless there was much subtle truth in his view. 

The principal truth discoverable in the views of Paul 
the engineer was that a little thing may bring about the 
undoing of a man. 

"II ne jaut pas beaucoup pour perdre un homme" he 
said to me, thoughtfully, one evening. 



AN ANARCHIST 145 

I report this reflection in French, since the man was 
of Paris, not of Barcelona at all. At the Maranon he 
lived apart from the station, in a small shed with a metal 
roof and straw walls, which he called mon atelier. He 
had a work-bench there. They had given him several 
horse-blankets and a saddle not that he ever had 
occasion to ride, but because no other bedding was 
used by the working-hands, who were all vaqueros 
cattlemen. And on this horseman's gear, like a son of 
the plains, he used to sleep amongst the tools of his 
trade, in a litter of rusty scrap-iron, with a portable 
forge at his head, under the work-bench sustaining his 
grimy mosquito-net. 

Now and then I would bring him a few candle ends 
saved from the scant supply of the manager's house. 
He was very thankful for these. He did not like to lie 
awake in the dark, he confessed. He complained that 
sleep fled from him. "Le sommeil mejuit," he declared, 
with his habitual air of subdued stoicism, which made 
him sympathetic and touching. I made it clear to him 
that I did not attach undue importance to the fact of his 
having been a convict. 

Thus it came about that one evening he was led to 
talk about himself. As one of the bits of candle on the 
edge of the bench burned down to the end, he hastened 
to light another. 

He had done his military service in a provincial 
garrison and returned to Paris to follow his trade. It 
was a well-paid one. He told me with some pride that 
in a short time he was earning no less than ten francs a 
day. He was thinking of setting up for himself by 
and by and of getting married. 

Here he sighed deeply and paused. Then with a 
return to his stoical note : 

"It seems I did not know enough about myself." 



146 AN ANARCHIST 

On his twenty-fifth birthday two of his friends in the 
repairing shop where he worked proposed to stand him 
a dinner. He was immensely touched by this attention. 

"I was a steady man," he remarked, "but I am not 
less sociable than any other body." 

The entertainment came off in a little cafe on the 
Boulevard de la Chapelle. At dinner they drank some 
special wine. It was excellent. Everything was excel- 
lent; and the world in his own words seemed a very 
good place to live in. He had good prospects, some 
little money laid by, and the affection of two excellent 
friends. He offered to pay for all the drinks after 
dinner, which was only proper on his part. 

They drank more wine; they drank liqueurs, cognac, 
beer, then more liqueurs and more cognac. Two 
strangers sitting at the next table looked at him, he said, 
with so much friendliness, that he invited them to join 
the party. 

He had never drunk so much in his life. His elation 
was extreme, and so pleasurable that whenever it 
flagged he hastened to order more drinks. 

"It seemed to me," he said, in his quiet tone and 
looking on the ground in the gloomy shed full of shad- 
ows, "that I was on the point of just attaining a great 
and wonderful felicity. Another drink, I felt, would do 
it. The others were holding out well with me, glass for 
glass." 

But an extraordinary thing happened. At something 
the strangers said his elation fell. Gloomy ideas des 
idees noires rushed into his head. All the world out- 
side the cafe appeared to him as a dismal evil place 
where a multitude of poor wretches had to work and 
slave to the sole end that a few individuals should ride in 
carriages and live riotously in palaces. He became 
ashamed of his happiness. The pity of mankind's cruel 



AN ANARCHIST 147 

lot wrung his heart. In a voice choked with sorrow he 
tried to express these sentiments. He thinks he wept 
and swore in turns. 

The two new acquaintances hastened to applaud his 
humane indignation. Yes. The amount of injustice 
in the world was indeed scandalous. There was only 
one way of dealing with the rotten state of society. 
Demolish the whole sacree boutique. Blow up the whole 
iniquitous show. 

Their heads hovered over the table. They whis- 
pered to him eloquently; I don't think they quite 
expected the result. He was extremely drunk mad 
drunk. With a howl of rage he leaped suddenly upon 
the table. Kicking over the bottles and glasses, he 
yelled: "Vive Vanarchie! Death to the capitalists!" 
He yelled this again and again. All round him broken 
glass was falling, chairs were being swung in the air, 
people were taking each other by the throat. The 
police dashed in. He hit, bit, scratched and struggled, 
till something crashed down upon his head. . . . 

He came to himself in a police cell, locked up on 
a charge of assault, seditious cries, and anarchist 
propaganda. 

He looked at me fixedly with his liquid, shining 
eyes, that seemed very big in the dim light. 

"That was bad. But even then I might have got off 
somehow, perhaps," he said, slowly. 

I doubt it. But whatever chance he had was done 
away with by a young socialist lawyer who volunteered 
to undertake his defence. In vain he assured him that 
he was no anarchist; that he was a quiet, respectable 
mechanic, only too anxious to work ten hours per day at 
his trade. He was represented at the trial as the victim 
of society and his drunken shoutings as the expression 
of infinite suffering. The young lawyer had his way to 



148 AN ANARCHIST 

make, and this case was just what he wanted for a 
start. The speech for the defence was pronounced 
magnificent. 

The poor fellow paused, swallowed, and brought out 
the statement: 

"I got the maximum penalty applicable to a first 
offence." 

I made an appropriate murmur. He hung his head 
and folded his arms. 

"When they let me out of prison," he began, gently, 
"I made tracks, of course, for my old workshop. My 
patron had a particular liking for me before; but when 
he saw me he turned green with fright and showed me 
the door with a shaking hand." 

While he stood in the street, uneasy and discon- 
certed, he was accosted by a middle-aged man who 
introduced Mmself as an engineer's fitter, too. "I know 
who you are," he said. "I have attended your trial. 
You are a good comrade and your ideas are sound. 
But the devil of it is that you won't be able to get work 
anywhere now. These bourgeois'll conspire to starve 
you. That's their way. Expect no mercy from the 
rich." 

To be spoken to so kindly in the street had com- 
forted him very much. His seemed to be the sort of 
nature needing support and sympathy. The idea of 
not being able to find work had knocked him over 
completely. If his patron, who knew him so well for a 
quiet, orderly, competent workman, would have noth- 
ing to do with him now then surely nobody else would. 
That was clear. The police, keeping their eye on him, 
would hasten to warn every employer inclined to give 
him a chance. He felt suddenly very helpless, alarmed 
and idle; and he followed the middle-aged man to the 
estaminet round the corner where he met some other 



AN ANARCHIST 149 

good companions. They assured him that he would 
not be allowed to starve, work or no work. They had 
drinks all round to the discomfiture of all employers of 
labour and to the destruction of society. 

He sat biting his lower lip. 

"That is, monsieur, how I became a compagnon," he 
said. The hand he passed over his forehead was 
trembling. "All the same, there's something wrong in 
a world where a man can get lost for a glass more or 
less." 

He never looked up, though I could see he was 
getting excited under his dejection. He slapped the 
bench with his open palm. 

"No!" he cried. "It was an impossible existence! 
Watched by the police, watched by the comrades, I 
did not belong to myself any more! Why, I could not 
even go to draw a few francs from my savings-bank 
without a comrade hanging about the door to see that 
I didn't bolt! And most of them were neither more 
nor less than housebreakers. The intelligent, I mean. 
They robbed the rich; they were only getting back 
their own, they said. When I had had some drink I 
believed them. There were also the fools and the mad. 
Des exaltes quoi ! When I was drunk I loved them. 
When I got more drink I was angry with the world. 
That was the best time. I found refuge from misery in 
rage. But one can't be always drunk nest-ce pas, 
monsieur? And when I was sober I was afraid to break 
away. They would have stuck me like a pig." 

He folded his arms again and raised his sharp chin 
with a bitter smile. 

"By and by they told me it was time to go to work. 
The work was to rob a bank. Afterwards a bomb 
would be thrown to wreck the place. My beginner's 
part would be to keep watch in a street at the back and 



150 AN ANARCHIST 

to take care of a black bag with the bomb inside till it 
was wanted. After the meeting at which the affair was 
arranged a trusty comrade did not leave me an inch. 
I had not dared to protest; I was afraid of being done 
away with quietly in that room; only, as we were 
walking together I wondered whether it would not 
be better for me to throw myself suddenly into the 
Seine. But while I was turning it over in my mind 
we had crossed the bridge, and afterwards I had not 
the opportunity." 

In the light of the candle end, with his sharp features, 
fluffy little moustache, and oval face, he looked at 
times delicately and gaily young, and then appeared 
quite old, decrepit, full of sorrow, pressing his folded 
arms to his breast. 

As he remained silent I felt bound to ask: 

" Well ! And,how did it end? " 

"Deportation to Cayenne," he answered. 

He seemed to think that somebody had given the 
plot away. As he was keeping watch in the back 
street, bag in hand, he was set upon by the police. 
"These imbeciles," had knocked him down without 
noticing what he had in his hand. He wondered how the 
bomb failed to explode as he fell. But it didn't explode. 

"I tried to tell my story in court," he continued. 
"The president was amused. There were in the 
audience some idiots who laughed." 

I expressed the hope that some of his companions 
had been caught, too. He shuddered slightly before he 
told me that there were two Simon, called also Biscuit, 
the middle-aged fitter who spoke to him in the street, 
and a fellow of the name of Mafile, one of the sym- 
pathetic strangers who had applauded his sentiments 
and consoled his humanitarian sorrows when he got 
drunk in the cafe. 



AN ANARCHIST 151 

"Yes," he went on, with an effort, "I had the ad- 
vantage of their company over there on St. Joseph's 
Island, amongst some eighty or ninety other convicts. 
We were all classed as dangerous/' 

St. Joseph's Island is the prettiest of the lies de 
Salut. It is rocky and green, with shallow ravines, 
bushes, thickets, groves of mango-trees, and many 
feathery palms. Six warders armed with revolvers and 
carbines are in charge of the convicts kept there. 

An eight-oared galley keeps up the communication 
in the daytime, across a channel a quarter of a mile 
wide, with the lie Royale, where there is a military post. 
She makes the first trip at six in the morning. At four 
in the afternoon her service is over, and she is then 
hauled up into a little dock on the He Royale and a 
sentry put over her and a few smaller boats. From that 
time till next morning the island of St. Joseph remains 
cut off from the rest of the world, with the warders 
patrolling in turn the path from the warders' house to 
the convict huts, and a multitude of sharks patrolling 
the waters all round. 

Under these circumstances the convicts planned a 
mutiny. Such a thing had never been known in the 
penitentiary's history before. But their plan was not 
without some possibility of success. The warders were 
to be taken by surprise and murdered during the night. 
Their arms would enable the convicts to shoot down 
the people in the galley as she came alongside in the 
morning. The galley once in their possession, other 
boats were to be captured, and the whole company was 
to row away up the coast. 

At dusk the two warders on duty mustered the con- 
victs as usual. Then they proceeded to inspect the 
huts to ascertain that everything was in order. In the 
second they entered they were set upon and absolutely 



AN ANARCHIST 

smothered under the numbers of their assailants. The 
twilight faded rapidly. It was a new moon; and a heavy 
black squall gathering over the coast increased the pro- 
found darkness of the night. The convicts assembled in 
the open space, deliberating upon the next step to be 
taken, argued amongst themselves in low voices. 

"You took part in all this?" I asked, 

"No. I knew what was going to be done, of course. 
But why should I kill these warders? I had nothing 
against them. But I was afraid of the others. What- 
ever happened, I could not escape from them. I sat 
alone on the stump of a tree with my head in my hands, 
sick at heart at the thought of a freedom that could be 
nothing but a mockery to me. Suddenly I was startled 
to perceive the shape of a man on the path near by. 
He stood perfectly still, then his form became effaced in 
the night. It must have been the chief warder coming 
to see what had become of his two men. No one 
noticed him. The convicts kept on quarrelling over 
their plans. The leaders could not get themselves 
obeyed. The fierce whispering of that dark mass of 
men was very horrible. 

"At last they divided into two parties and moved off. 
When they had passed me I rose, weary and hopeless. 
The path to the warders' house was dark and silent, 
but on each side the bushes rustled slightly. Presently 
I saw a faint thread of light before me. The chief 
warder, followed by his three men, was approaching 
cautiously. But he had failed to close his dark lantern 
properly. The convicts had seen that faint gleam, too. 
There was an awful savage yell, a turmoil on the dark 
path, shots fired, blows, groans : and with the sound of 
smashed bushes, the shouts of the pursuers and the 
screams of the pursued, the man-hunt, the warder-hunt, 
passed by me into the interior of the island. I was 



AN ANARCHIST 153 

alone. And I assure you, monsieur, I was indifferent 
to everything. After standing still for a while, I walked 
on along the path till I kicked something hard. I 
stooped and picked up a warder's revolver. I felt with 
my fingers that it was loaded in five chambers. In 
the gusts of wind I heard the convicts calling to each 
other far away, and then a roll of thunder would cover 
the soughing and rustling of the trees. Suddenly, a big 
light ran across my path very low along the ground. 
And it showed a woman's skirt with the edge of an 
apron. 

"I knew that the person who carried it must be the 
wife of the head warder. They had forgotten all about 
her, it seems. A shot rang out in the interior of the 
island, and she cried out to herself as she ran. She 
passed on. I followed, and presently I saw her again. 
She was pulling at the cord of the big bell which hangs 
at the end of the landing-pier, with one hand, and with 
the other she was swinging the heavy lantern to and 
fro. This is the agreed signal for the He Hoy ale should 
assistance be required at night. The wind carried the 
sound away from our island and the light she swung 
was hidden on the shore side by the few trees that grow 
near the warders' house. 

"I came up quite close to her from behind. She 
went on without stopping, without looking aside, as 
though she had been all alone on the island. A brave 
woman, monsieur. I put the revolver inside the breast 
of rny blue blouse and waited. A flash of lightning and 
a clap of thunder destroyed both the sound and the 
light of the signal for an instant, but she never faltered, 
pulling at the cord and swinging the lantern as regularly 
as a machine. She was a comely woman of thirty no 
more. I thought to myself, 'All that's no good on a 
night like this.' And I made up my mind that if a 



154 AN ANARCHIST 

body of my fellow-convicts came down to the pier ' 
which was sure to happen soon I would shoot hex 
through the head before I shot myself. I knew the 
'comrades' well. This idea of mine gave me quite an 
interest in life, monsieur; and at once, instead of re- 
maining stupidly exposed on the pier, I retreated a 
little way and crouched behind a bush. I did not in- 
tend to let myself be pounced upon unawares and be 
prevented perhaps from rendering a supreme service 
to at least one human creature before I died myself. 

"But we must believe the signal was seen, for the 
galley from lie Royale came over in an astonishingly 
short time. The woman kept right on till the light of 
her lantern flashed upon the officer in command and 
the bayonets of the soldiers in the boat. Then she sat 
down and began to cry. 

"She didn't need me any more. I did not budge. 
Some soldiers were only in their shirt-sleeves, others 
without boots, just as the call to arms had found them. 
They passed by my bush at the double. The galley had 
been sent away for more; and the woman sat all alone 
crying at the end of the pier, with the lantern standing 
on the ground near her. 

"Then suddenly I saw in the light at the end of the 
pier the red pantaloons of two more men. I was over- 
come with astonishment. They, too, started off at a 
run. Their tunics flapped unbuttoned and they were 
bare-headed. One of them panted out to the other, 
'Straight on, straight on !' 

"Where on earth did they spring from, I wondered. 
Slowly I walked down the short pier. I saw the 
woman's form shaken by sobs and heard her moaning 
more and more distinctly, 'Oh, my man! my poor man! 
my poor man !' I stole on quietly. She could neither 
hear nor see anything. She had thrown her apron over 



AN ANARCHIST 155 

her head and was rocking herself to and fro in her grief. 
But I remarked a small boat fastened to the end of the 
pier. 

" Those two men they looked like sous-officiers 
must have come in it, after being too late, I suppose, for 
the galley. It is incredible that they should have thus 
broken the regulations from a sense of duty. And it 
was a stupid thing to do. I could not believe my eyes 
in the very moment I was stepping into that boat. 

"I pulled along the shore slowly. A black cloud 
hung over the lies de Salut. I heard firing, shouts. 
Another hunt had begun the convict-hunt. The 
oars were too long to pull comfortably. I managed 
them with difficulty, though the boat herself was light. 
But when I got round to the other side of the island the 
squall broke in rain and wind. I was unable to make 
head against it. I let the boat drift ashore and secured 
her. 

"I knew the spot. There was a tumbledown old 
hovel standing near the water. Cowering in there I 
heard through the noises of the wind and the falling 
downpour some people tearing through the bushes. 
They came out on the strand. Soldiers perhaps. A 
flash of lightning threw everything near me into violent 
relief. Two convicts! 

"And directly an amazed voice exclaimed, Tt's a 
miracle!' It was the voice of Simon, otherwise Biscuit. 

"And another voice growled, 'What's a miracle?' 

"'Why, there's a boat lying here!' 

"'You must be mad, Simon! But there is, after all. 

. . A boat.' 

"They seemed awed into complete silence. The 
other man was Mafile. He spoke again, cautiously. 

" Tt is fastened up. There must be somebody here/ 

" 'I spoke to them from within the hovel : ' I am here.' 



156 AN ANARCHIST 

"They came in then, and soon gave me to understand 
that the boat was theirs, not mine. 'There are two of 
us/ said Mafile, 'against you alone.' 

"I got out into the open to keep clear of them for 
fear of getting a treacherous blow on the head. I could 
have shot them both where they stood. But I said 
nothing. I kept down the laughter rising in my throat. 
I made myself very humble and begged to be allowed to 
go. They consulted in low tones about my fate, while 
with my hand on the revolver in the bosom of my blouse 
I had their lives in my power. I let them live. I 
meant them to pull that boat. I represented to them 
with abject humility that I understood the management 
of a boat, and that, being three to pull, we could get a 
rest in turns. That decided them at last. It was time. 
A little more and I would have gone into screaming fits 
at the drollness of it." 

At this point his excitement broke out. He jumped 
off the bench and gesticulated. The great shadows of 
his arms darting over roof and walls made the shed 
appear too small to contain his agitation. 

"I deny nothing," he burst out. "I was elated, 
monsieur. I tasted a sort of felicity. But I kept very 
quiet. I took my turns at pulling all through the 
night. We made for the open sea, putting our trust in a 
passing ship. It was a foolhardy action. I persuaded 
them to it. When the sun rose the immensity of water 
was calm, and the lies de Salut appeared only like dark 
specks from the top of each swell. I was steering then. 
Mafile, who was pulling bow, let out an oath and said, 
*We must rest/ 

'The time to laugh had come at last. And I took 
my fill of it, I can tell you. I held my sides and rolled 
in my seat, they had such startled faces. 'What's got 
into him, the animal?' cries Mafile. 



AN ANARCHIST 157 

"And Simon, who was nearest to me, says over his 
shoulder to him, 'Devil take me if I don't think he's 
gone mad!' 

"Then I produced the revolver. Aha! In a mo- 
ment they both got the stoniest eyes you can imagine. 
Ha, ha! They were frightened. But they pulled. 
Oh, yes, they pulled all day, sometimes looking wild and 
sometimes looking faint. I lost nothing of it because I 
had to keep my eyes on them all the time, or else 
crack! they would have been on top of me in a second. 
I rested my revolver hand on my knee all ready and 
steered with the other. Their faces began to blister. 
Sky and sea seemed on fire round us and the sea steamed 
in the sun. The boat made a sizzling sound as she went 
through the water. Sometimes Mafile foamed at the 
mouth and sometimes he groaned. But he pulled. He 
dared not stop. His eyes became blood-shot all over, 
and he had bitten his lower lip to pieces. Simon was as 
hoarse as a crow. 

" 'Comrade ' he begins. 

"'There are no comrades here. I am your pa- 
tron.' 

"'Patron, then,' he says, 'in the name of humanity 
let Us rest.' 

"I let them. There was a little rainwater washing 
about the bottom of the boat. I permitted them to 
snatch some of it in the hollow of their palms. But as I 
gave the command, 'En route /' I caught Ihcm exchang- 
ing significant glances. They thought I would have to 
go to sleep sometime! Aha! But I did not want to go 
to sleep. I was more awake than ever. It is they who 
went to sleep as they pulled, tumbling off the thwarts 
head over heels suddenly, one after another. I let them 
lie. All the stars were out. It was a quiet world. The 
sun rose. Another day. Allez ! En route ! 



158 AN ANARCHIST 

"They pulled badly. Their eyes rolled about and 
their tongues hung out. In the middle of the forenoon 
Mafile croaks out: 'Let us make a rush at him, Simon. 
I would just as soon be shot at once as to die of thirst, 
hunger, and fatigue at the oar.' 

"But while he spoke he pulled; and Simon kept on 
pulling too. It made me smile. Ah! They loved 
their life these two, in this evil world of theirs, just 
as I used to love my life, too, before they spoiled it 
for me with their phrases. I let them go on to the 
point of exhaustion, and only then I pointed at the 
sails of a ship on the horizon. 

"Aha! You should have seen them revive and 
buckle to their work! For I kept them at it to pull 
right across that ship's path. They were changed. 
The sort of pity I had felt for them left me. They 
looked more like themselves every minute. They 
looked at me with the glances I remembered so well. 
They were happy. They smiled. 

"'Well,' says Simon, 'the energy of that youngster 
has saved our lives. If he hadn't made us, we could 
never have pulled so far out into the track of ships. 
Comrade, I forgive you. I admire you/ 

"And Mafile growls from forward: 'We owe you a 
famous debt of gratitude, comrade. You are cut out 
for a chief/ 

"Comrade! Monsieur! Ah, what a good word! 
And they, such men as these two, had made it accursed. 
I looked at them. I remembered their lies, their 
promises, their menaces, and all my days of misery. 
Why could they not have left me alone after I came out 
of prison? I looked at them and thought that while 
they lived I could never be free. Never. Neither I nor 
others like me with warm hearts and weak heads. For 
I know I have not a strong head, monsieur. A black 



AN ANARCHIST 159 

rage came upon me the rage of extreme intoxication 
but not against the injustice of society. Oh, no! 

"T must be free!' I cried, furiously. 

"'Vive la liberiS /' yells that ruffian Mafile. 'Mori 
aux bourgeois who send us to Cayenne! They shall 
soon know that we are free.' 

"The sky, the sea, the whole horizon, seemed to turn 
red, blood red all round the boat. My temples were 
beating so loud that I wondered they did not hear. 
How is it that they did not? How is it they did not 
understand? 

"I heard Simon ask, 'Have we not pulled far enough 
out now?' 

'"Yes. Far enough,' I said. I was sorry for him; 
it was the other I hated. He hauled in his oar with a 
loud sigh, and as he was raising his hand to wipe his 
forehead with the air of a man who has done his work, I 
pulled the trigger of my revolver and shot him like this 
off the knee, right through the heart. 

"He tumbled down, with his head hanging over the 
side of the boat. I did not give him a second glance. 
The other cried out piercingly. Only one shriek of 
horror. Then all was still. 

"He slipped off the thwart on to his knees and raised 
his clasped hands before his face in an attitude of suppli- 
cation. 'Mercy,' he whispered, faintly. 'Mercy for 
me ! comrade.' 

" 'Ah, comrade,' I said, in a low tone. 'Yes, comrade, 
of course. Well, then, shout Vive Vanarchie.' 

"He flung up his arms, his face up to the sky and 
his mouth wide open in a great yell of despair. 'Vive 
Vanarchie ! Vive ' 

"He collapsed all in a heap, with a bullet through 
his head. 

"I flung them both overboard. I threw away the 



160 AN ANARCHIST 

revolver, too. Then I sat down quietly. I was free at 
last! At last. I did not even look towards the ship; 
I did not care; indeed, I think I must have gone to 
sleep, because all of a sudden there were shouts and I 
found the ship almost on top of me. They hauled me 
on board and secured the boat astern. They were all 
blacks, except the captain, who was a mulatto. He 
alone knew a few words of French. I could not find 
out where they were going nor who they were. They 
gave me something to eat every day; but I did not like 
the way they used to discuss me in their language. 
Perhaps they were deliberating about throwing me over- 
board in order to keep possession of the boat. How do 
I know? As we were passing this island I asked 
whether it was inhabited. I understood from the 
mulatto that there was a house on it. A farm, I 
fancied, they meant. So I asked them to put me ashore 
on the beach and keep the boat for their trouble. This 1 , 
I imagine, was just what they wanted. The rest you 
know." 

After pronouncing these words he lost suddenly all 
control over himself. He paced to and fro rapidly, till 
at last he broke into a run; his arms went like a windmill 
and his ejaculations became very much like raving. 
The burden of them was that he "denied nothing, 
nothing!" I could only let him go on, and sat out of his 
way, repeating, "Calmcz vous, calmez vous," at intervals, 
till his agitation exhausted itself. 

I must confess, too, that I remained there long after 
he had crawled under his mosquito-net. He had en- 
treated me not to leave him; so, as one sits up with a 
nervous child, I sat up with him in the name of 
humanity till he fell asleep. 

On the whole, my idea is that he was much more of 
an anarchist than he confessed to me or to himself; and 



AN ANARCHIST 161 

that, the special features of his case apart, he was very 
much like many other anarchists. Warm heart and 
weak head that is the word of the riddle; and it is a 
fact that the bitterest contradictions and the deadliest 
conflicts of the world are carried on in every individual 
breast capable of feeling and passion. 

From personal inquiry I can vouch that the story of 
the convict mutiny was in every particular as stated by 
him. 

When I got back to Horta from Cayenne and saw 
the "Anarchist" again, he did not look well. He was 
more worn, still more frail, and very livid indeed under 
the grimy smudges of his calling. Evidently the meat 
of the company's main herd (in its unconcentrated 
form) did not agree with him at all. 

It was on the pontoon in Horta that we met; and I 
tried to induce him to leave the launch moored where 
she was and follow me to Europe there and then. It 
would have been delightful to think of the excellent 
manager's surprise and disgust at the poor fellow's 
escape. But he refused with unconquerable obstinacy. 

"Surely you don't mean to live always here!' I 
cried. He shook his head. 

"I shall die here," he said. Then added moodily, 
"Away from them" 

Sometimes I think of him lying open-eyed on his 
horseman's gear in the low shed full of tools and scraps 
of iron the anarchist slave of the Maranon estate, 
waiting with resignation for that sleep which "fled" 
from him, as he used to say, in such an unaccountable 
manner. 



A MILITARY TALE 



THE DUEL 



NAPOLEON I., whose career had the quality of a 
duel against the whole of Europe, disliked duelling 
between the officers of his army. The great military 
emperor was not a swashbuckler, and had little respect 
for tradition. 

Nevertheless, a story of duelling, which became a 
legend in the army, runs through the epic of imperial 
wars. To the surprise and admiration of their fellows, 
two officers, like insane artists trying to gild refined gold 
or paint the lily, pursued a private contest through the 
years of universal carnage. They were officers of 
cavalry, and their connection with the high-spirited but 
fanciful animal which carries men into battle seems 
particularly appropriate. It would be difficult to 
imagine for heroes of this legend two officers of infantry 
of the line, for example, whose fantasy is tamed by 
much walking exercise, and whose valour necessarily 
must be of a more plodding kind. As to gunners or 
engineers, whose heads are kept cool on a diet of 
mathematics, it is simply unthinkable. 

The names of the two officers were Feraud and 
D'Hubert, and they were both lieutenants in a regiment 
of hussars, but not in the same regiment. 

Feraud was doing regimental work, but Lieut. 
D'Hubert had the good fortune to be attached to the 
person of the general commanding the division, as 

165 



1Q6 THE DUEL 

offieier d'ordonnance. It was in Strasbourg, and in this 
agreeable and important garrison they were enjoying 
greatly a short interval of peace. They were enjoying 
it, though both intensely warlike, because it was a 
sword-sharpening, firelock-cleaning peace, dear to a 
military heart and undamaging to military prestige, 
inasmuch that no one believed in its sincerity or 
duration. 

Under those historical circumstances, so favourable 
to the proper appreciation of military leisure, Lieut. 
D 'Hubert, one fine afternoon, made his way along a 
quiet street of a cheerful suburb towards Lieut. Feraud's 
quarters, which were in a private house with a garden 
at the back, belonging to an old maiden lady. 

His knock at the door was answered instantly by a 
young maid in Alsatian costume. Her fresh complexion 
and her long eyelashes, lowered demurely at the sight 
of the tall officer, caused Lieut. D'Hubert, who was 
accessible to esthetic impressions, to relax the cold, 
severe gravity of his face. At the same time he ob- 
served that the girl had over her arm a pair of hussar's 
breeches, blue with a red stripe. 

"Lieut. Feraud in?" he inquired, benevolently. 

"Oh, no, sir! He went out at six this morning." 

The pretty maid tried to close the door. Lieut. 
D'Hubert, opposing this move with gentle firmness, 
stepped into the ante-room, jingling his spurs. 

"Come, my dear! You don't mean to say he has 
not been home since six o'clock this morning?" 

Saying these words, Lieut. D'Hubert opened with- 
out ceremony the door of a room so comfortably and 
neatly ordered that only from internal evidence in the 
shape of boots, uniforms, and military accoutrements 
did he acquire the conviction that it was Lieut. Feraud's 
room. And he saw also that Lieut. Feraud was not at 



THE DUEL 167 

home. The truthful maid had followed him, and raised 
her candid eyes to his face. 

"H'm!" said Lieut. D'Hubert, greatly disappointed, 
for he had already visited all the haunts where a lieu- 
tenant of hussars could be found of a fine afternoon. 
"So he's out? And do you happen to know, my dear, 
why he went out at six this morning?" 

"No," she answered, readily. "He came home late 
last night, and snored. I heard him when I got up at 
five. Then he dressed himself in his oldest uniform and 
went out. Service, I suppose." 

"Service? Not a bit of it!" cried Lieut. D'Hubert. 
"Learn, my angel, that he went out thus early to fight a 
duel with a civilian." 

She heard this news without a quiver of her dark 
eyelashes. It was very obvious that the actions 01 
Lieut. Feraud were generally above criticism. She only 
looked up for a moment in mute surprise, and Lieut. 
D'Hubert concluded from this absence of emotion that 
she must have seen Lieut. Feraud since the morning. 
He looked around the room. 

"Come!" he insisted, with confidential familiarity. 
"He's perhaps somewhere in the house now?" 

She shook her head. 

"So much the worse for him!" continued Lieut. 
D'Hubert, in a tone of anxious conviction. "But he 
has been home this rooming." 

This time the pre^y maid nodded slightly. 

"He has!" cried Lieut. D'Hubert. "And went out 
again? What for? Couldn't he keep quietly indoors! 
What a lunatic! My dear girl " 

Lieut. D'Hubert's natural kindness of disposition 
and strong sense of comradeship helped his powers of 
observation. He changed his tone to a most insinuating 
softness, and, gazing at the hussar's breeches hanging 



168 THE DUEL 

over the arm of the girl, he appealed to the interest she 
took in Lieut. Feraud's comfort and happiness. He 
was pressing and persuasive. He used his eyes, which 
were kind and fine, with excellent effect. His anxiety 
to get hold at once of Lieut. Feraud, for Lieut. Feraud's 
own good, seemed so genuine that at last it overcame 
the girl's unwillingness to speak. Unluckily she had 
not much to tell. Lieut. Feraud had returned home 
shortly before ten, had walked straight into his room, 
and had thrown himself on his bed to resume his 
slumbers. She had heard him snore rather louder than 
before far into the afternoon. Then he got up, put on 
his best uniform, and went out. That was all she knew. 

She raised her eyes, and Lieut. D'Hubert stared into 
them incredulously. 

"It's incredible. Gone parading the town in his 
best uniform! My dear child, don't you know he ran 
that civilian through this morning? Clean through, us 
you spit a hare." 

The pretty maid heard the gruesome intelligence 
without any signs of distress. But she pressed her lips 
together thoughtfully. 

"He isn't parading the town," she remarked in a low 
tone. "Far from it." 

"The civilian's family is making an awful row," 
continued Lieut. D'Hubert, pursuing his train of 
thought. "And the general is very angry. It's one 
of the best families in the town. Feraud ought to have 
kept close at least " 

"What will the general do to him?" inquired the girl, 
anxiously. 

"He won't have his head cut off, to be sure," grum- 
bled Lieut. D'Hubert. "His conduct is positively in- 
decent. He's making no end of trouble for himself by 
this sort of bravado." 



THE DUEL 169 

"But he isn't parading the town," the maid insisted 
in a shy murmur. 

"Why, yes! Now I think of it, I haven't seen him 
anywhere about. What on earth has he done with 
himself?" 

"He's gone to pay a call," suggested the maid, after 
a moment of silence. 

Lieut. D'Hubert started. 

"A call! Do you mean a call on a lady? The cheek 
of the man! And how do you know this, my dear?" 

Without concealing her woman's scorn for the dense- 
ness of the masculine mind, the pretty maid reminded 
him that Lieut. Feraud had arrayed himself in his best 
uniform before going out. He had also put on his 
newest dolman, she added, in a tone as if this conver- 
sation were getting on her nerves, and turned away 
brusquely. 

Lieut. D'Hubert, without questioning the accuracy 
of the deduction, did not see that it advanced him much 
on his official quest. For his quest after Lieut. Feraud 
had an official character. He did not know any of the 
women this fellow, who had run a man through in the 
morning, was likely to visit in the afternoon. The two 
young men knew each other but slightly. He bit his 
gloved finger in perplexity. 

" Call ! " he exclaimed. " Call on the devil ! " 

The girl, with her back to him, and folding the 
hussars breeches on a chair, protested with a vexed 
little laugh : 

"Oh, dear, no! On Madame de Lionne." 

Lieut. D'Hubert whistled softly. Madame de Lionne 
was the wife of a high official who had a well-known 
salon and some pretensions to sensibility and elegance. 
The husband was a civilian, and old; but the society of 
the salon was young and military. Lieut. D'Hubert 



170 THE DUEL 

had whistled, not because the idea of pursuing Lieut. 
Feraud into that very salon was disagreeable to him, but 
because, having arrived in Strasbourg only lately, he 
had not had the time as yet to get an introduction to 
Madame de Lionne. And what was that swashbuckler 
Feraud doing there, he wondered. He did not seem the 
sort of man who 

"Are you certain of what you say?" asked Lieut. 
D'Hubert. 

The girl was perfectly certain. Without turning 
round to look at him, she explained that the coachman 
of their next door neighbours knew the maitre-d' hotel 
of Madame de Lionne. In this way she had her in- 
formation. And she was perfectly certain. In giving 
this assurance she sighed. Lieut. Feraud called there 
nearly every afternoon, she added. 

"Ah, bah!" exclaimed D'Hubert, ironically. His 
opinion of Madame de Lionne went down several de- 
grees. Lieut. Feraud did not seem to him specially 
worthy of attention on the part of a woman with a repu- 
tation for sensibility and elegance. But there was no 
saying. At bottom they were all alike very practi- 
cal rather than idealistic. Lieut. D'Hubert, however, 
did not allow his mind to dwell on these considerations. 

"By thunder!" he reflected aloud. "The general 
goes there sometimes. If he happens to find the fellow 
making eyes at the lady there will be the devil to pay ! 
Our general is not a very accommodating person, I can 
tell you." 

"Go quickly, then! Don't stand here now I've told 
you where he is!" cried the girl, colouring to the eyes. 

"Thanks, my dear! I don't know what I would 
have done without you." 

After manifesting his gratitude in an aggressive way, 
which at first was repulsed violently, and then sub- 



THE DUEL 171 

milled lo with a sudden and slill more repellent in- 
difference, Lieut. D'Hubert took his departure. 

He clanked and jingled along the streets with a 
martial swagger. To run a comrade to earth in a 
drawing-room where he was not known did not trouble 
him in the least. A uniform is a passport. His 
position as officier d'ordonnarwe of the general added 
to his assurance. Moreover, now that he knew where 
to find Lieut. Feraud, he had no option. It was a ser- 
vice matter. 

Madame de Lionne's house had an excellent appear- 
ance. A man in livery, opening the door of a large 
drawing-room with a waxed floor, shouted his name 
and stood aside lo let him pass. It was a reception day. 
The ladies wore big hats surcharged with a profusion of 
fealhers; Iheir bodies shealhed in clinging while gowns, 
from Ihe armpils lo Ihe lips of Ihe low salin shoes, 
looked sylph-like and cool in a greal display of bare 
necks and arms. The men who lalked wilh them, on 
Ihe conlrary, were arrayed heavily in mulli-coloured 
garmenls wilh collars up lo Iheir ears and Ihick sashes 
round Iheir waisls. Lieul. D'Huberl made his un- 
abashed way across Ihe room and, bowing low before a 
sylph-like form reclining on a couch, offered his 
apologies for Ihis inlrusion, which nolhing could excuse 
bul Ihe exlreme urgency of Ihe service order he had lo 
communicale lo his comrade Feraud. He proposed lo 
himself lo relurn presenlly in a more regular manner 
and beg forgiveness for inlerrupling Ihe inleresling 
conversalion . . . 

A bare arm was exlended lowards him wilh gracious 
nonchalance even before he had finished speaking. He 
pressed Ihe hand respectfully lo his lips, and made Ihe 
menial remark lhat il was bony. Madame de Lionne 
Was a blonde, wilh loo fine a skin and a long face. 



172 THE DUEL 

" C'est ga I " she said, with an ethereal smile, disclosing 
a set of large teeth, " Come this evening to plead for 
your forgiveness." 

"I will not fail, madame." 

Meantime, Lieut. Feraud, splendid in his new dolman 
and the extremely polished boots of his calling, sat on a 
chair within a foot of the couch, one hand resting on his 
thigh, the other twirling his moustache to a point. At 
a significant glance from D'Hubert he rose without 
alacrity, and followed him into the recess of a window. 

"What is it you want with me?" he asked, with 
astonishing indifference. Lieut. D'Hubert could not 
imagine that in the innocence of his heart and simplicity 
of his conscience Lieut. Feraud took a view of his duel 
in which neither remorse nor yet a rational apprehension 
of consequences had any place. Though he had no 
clear recollection how the quarrel had originated (it was 
begun in an establishment where beer and wine aue 
drunk late at night), he had not the slightest doubt of 
being himself the outraged party. He had had two 
experienced friends for his seconds. Everything had 
been done according to the rules governing that sort of 
adventures. And a duel is obviously fought for the 
purpose of someone being at least hurt, if not killed 
outright. The civilian got hurt. That also was in 
order. Lieut. Feraud was perfectly tranquil; but 
Lieut. D'Hubert took it for affectation, and spoke with 
a certain vivacity. 

"I am directed by the general to give you the order 
to go at once to your quarters, and remain there under 
close arrest." 

It was now the turn of Lieut. Feraud to be aston- 
ished. "What the devil are you telling me there?" he 
murmured, faintly, and fell into such profound wonder 
that he could only follow mechanically the motions of 



THE DUEL 173 

Lieut. D'Hubert. The two officers, one tall, with an 
interesting face and a moustache the colour of ripe corn, 
the other, short and sturdy, with a hooked nose and a 
thick crop of black curly hair, approached the mistresr 
of the house to take their leave. Madame de Lionnc^ 
a woman of eclectic taste, smiled upon these armed 
young men with impartial sensibility and an equal share 
of interest. Madame de Lionne took her delight in the 
infinite variety of the human species. All the other 
eyes in the drawing-room followed the departing 
officers; and when they had gone out one or two men, 
who had already heard of the duel, imparted the in- 
formation to the sylph-like ladies, who received it with 
faint shrieks of humane concern. 

Meantime, the two hussars walked side by side, Lieut. 
Feraud trying to master the hidden reason of things 
which in this instance eluded the grasp of his intellect; 
Lieut. D'Hubert feeling annoyed at the part he had to 
play, because the general's instructions were that he 
should see personally that Lieut. Feraud carried out his 
orders to the letter, and at once. 

"The chief seems to know this animal," he thought, 
eyeing his companion, whose round face, the round 
eyes, and even the twisted-up jet black little moustache 
seemed animated by a mental exasperation against the 
incomprehensible. And aloud he observed rather re- 
proachfully, " The general is in a devilish f ury with you ! " 

Lieut. Feraud stopped short on the edge of the pave- 
ment, and cried in accents of unmistakable sincerity, 
14 What on earth for?" The innocence of the fiery 
Gascon soul was depicted hi the manner in which he 
seized his head in both hands as if to prevent it bursting 
with perplexity. 

"For the duel," said Lieut. D'Hubert, curtly. He 1 
was annoyed greatly by this sort of perverse fooling. f 



174 THE DUEL 

"The duel! The . . ." 

Lieut. Feraud passed from one paroxysm of astonish- 
ment into another. He dropped his hands and walked 
on slowly, trying to reconcile this information with the 
state of his own feelings. It was impossible. He burst 
out indignantly, "Was I to let that sauerkraut-eating 
civilian wipe his boots on the uniform of the 7th Hus- 
sars?" 

Lieut. D'Hubert could not remain altogether un- 
moved by that simple sentiment. This little fellow was 
a lunatic, he thought to himself, but there was some~ 
thing in what he said. 

"Of course, I don't know how far you were justified," 
he began, soothingly. "And the general himself may 
not be exactly informed. Those people have been 
deafening him with their lamentations/' 

"Ah! the general is not exactly informed," mumbled 
Lieut. Feraud, walking faster and faster as his choler t 
the injustice of his fate began to rise. "He is not 
exactly . . . And he orders me under close arrest, 
with God knows what afterwards!" 

"Don't excite yourself like this," remonstrated the 
other. "Your adversary's people are very influential, 
you know, and it looks bad enough on the face of it. 
The general had to take notice of their complaint at 
once. I don't think he means to be over-severe with 
you. It's the best thing for you to be kept out of sight 
for a while." 

"I am very much obliged to the general," muttered 
Lieut. Feraud through his teeth. "And perhaps you 
would say I ought to be grateful to you, too, for the 
trouble you have taken to hunt me up in the drawing- 
room of a lady who " 

"Frankly," interrupted Lieut. D'Hubert, with an 
innocent laugh, "I think you ought to be. I had no 



THE DUEL 175 

end of trouble to find out where you were. It wasn't 
exactly the place for you to disport yourself in under 
the circumstances. If the general had caught you 
there making eyes at the goddess of the temple . . . 
oh, my word! . . . He hates to be bothered with 
complaints against his officers, you know. And it 
looked uncommonly like sheer bravado." 

The two officers had arrived now at the street door of 
Lieut, Feraud's lodgings. The latter turned towards 
his companion. "Lieut. D'Hubert," he said, "I have 
something to say to you, which can't be said very well 
in the street. You can't refuse to come up." 

The pretty maid had opened the door. Lieut. 
Feraud brushed past her brusquely, and she raised her 
scared and questioning eyes to Lieut. D'Hubert, who 
could do nothing but shrug his shoulders slightly as he 
followed with marked reluctance. 

In his room Lieut. Feraud unhooked the clasp, flung 
his new dolman on the bed, and, folding his arms across 
his chest, turned to the other hussar. 

"Do you imagine I am a man to submit tamely to 
injustice?" he inquired, in a boisterous voice. 

"Oh, do be reasonable!" remonstrated Lieut. D'Hu- 
bert. 

"I am reasonable! I am perfectly reasonable!" 
retorted the other with ominous restraint. "I can't 
call the general to account for his behaviour, but you are 
going to answer me for yours." 

"I can't listen to this nonsense," murmured Lieut. 
D'Hubert, making a slightly contemptuous grimace. 

"You call this nonsense? It seems to me a per- 
fectly plain statement. Unless you don't understand 
French." 

"What on earth do you mean?" 

"I mean," screamed suddenly Lieut. Feraud, "to cut 



176 THE DUEL 

off your ears to teach you to disturb me with the 
general's orders when I am talking to a lady!" 

A profound silence followed this mad declaration; 
and through the open window Lieut. D'Hubert heard 
the little birds singing sanely in the garden. He said, 
preserving his calm, " Why ! If you take that tone, of 
course I shall hold myself at your disposition whenever 
you are at liberty to attend to this affair; but I don't 
think you will cut my ears off." 

"I am going to attend to it at once," declared Lieut. 
Feraud, with extreme truculence. " If you are thinking 
of displaying your airs and graces to-night in Madame 
de Lionne's salon you are very much mistaken." 

"Really!" said Lieut. D'Hubert, who was beginning 
to feel .irritated, "you are an impracticable sort of 
fellow/ ^The 1 general's orders to me were to put you 
under arrest', not Jo carve you into small pieces. Good- 
morning !"' {And turning his back on the little Gascon, 
'who, always sober in his potations, was as though born 
intoxicated with the sunshine of his vine-ripening coun- 
try, the Northman, who could drink hard on occasion, 
but was born sober under the watery skies of Picardy, 
made for the door. Hearing, however, the unmistak- 
able sound behind his back of a sword drawn from Ihe 
scabbard, he had no option but to stop. 

"Devil take this mad Southerner!" he thought, spin- 
ning round and surveying with composure the warlike 
posture of Lieut. Feraud, with a bare sword in his hand. 

" At once ! at once ! ' ' stuttered Feraud, beside himself. 

"You had my answer," said the other, keeping his 
temper very well. 

At first he had been only vexed, and somewhat 
amused; but now his face got clouded. He was asking 
himself seriously how he could manage to get away. 
It was impossible to run from a man with a sword, and 



THE DUEL 177 

as to fighting him, it seemed completely out of the 
question. He waited awhile, then said exactly what 
was in his heart. 

"Drop this! I won't fight with you. I won't be 
made ridiculous." 

"Ah, you won't?" hissed the Gascon. "I suppose 
you prefer to be made infamous. Do you hear what I 
say? . . . Infamous! Infamous! Infamous!" he 
shrieked, rising and falling on his toes and getting very 
red in the face. 

Lieut. D'Hubert, on the contrary, became very pale at 
the sound of the unsavoury word for a moment, then 
flushed pink to the roots of his fair hair. "But you 
can't go out to fight; you are under arrest, you lunatic!" 
he objected, with angry scorn. 

"There's the garden: it's big enough to lay out your 
long carcass in," spluttered the other with such ardour 
that somehow the anger of the cooler man subsided. 

"This is perfectly absurd," he said, glad enough to 
think he had found a way out of it for the moment. 
"We shall never get any of our comrades to serve as 
seconds. It's preposterous." 

"Seconds! Damn the seconds! We don't want 
any seconds. Don't you worry about any seconds. I 
shall send word to your friends to come and bury you 
when I am done. And if you want any witnesses, 
I'll send word to the old girl to put her head out of 
a window at the back. Stay! There's the gardener. 
He'll do. He's as deaf as a post, but he has two eyes 
in his head. Come along! I will teach you, my staff 
officer, that the carrying about of a general's orders is 
not always child's play." 

While thus discoursing he had unbuckled his empty 
scabbard. He sent it flying under the bed, and, lower- 
ing the point of the sword, brushed past the perplexed 



178 THE DUEL 

Lieut. D'Hubert, exclaiming, "Follow me!" Directly 
he had flung open the door a faint shriek was heard and 
the pretty maid, who had been listening at the keyhole, 
staggered away, putting the backs of her hands over her 
eyes. Feraud did not seem to see her, but she ran after 
him and seized his left arm. He shook her off, and 
then she rushed towards Lieut. D'Hubert and clawed 
at the sleeve of his uniform. 

"Wretched man!" she sobbed. "Is this what you 
wanted to find him for?" 

"Let me go," entreated Lieut. D'Hubert, trying to 
disengage himself gently. "It's like being in a mad- 
house," he protested, with exasperation. "Do let me 
go! I won't do him any harm." 

A fiendish laugh from Lieut. Feraud commented that 
assurance. " Come along ! " he shouted, with a stamp of 
his foot. 

And Lieut. D'Hubert did follow. He could do noth- 
ing else. Yet in vindication of his sanity it must be 
recorded that as he passed through the ante-room the 
notion of opening the street door and bolting out pre- 
sented itself to this brave youth, only of course to be 
instantly dismissed, for he felt sure that the other would 
pursue him without shame or compunction. And the 
prospect of an officer of hussars being chased along the 
street by another officer of hussars with a naked sword 
could not be for a moment entertained. Therefore 
he followed into the garden. Behind them the girl 
tottered out, too. With ashy lips and wild, scared 
eyes, she surrendered herself to a dreadful curiosity. 
She had also the notion of rushing if need be between 
Lieut. Feraud and death. 

The deaf gardener, utterly unconscious of approach- 
ing footsteps, went on watering his flowers till Lieut. 
Feraud thumped him on the back. Beholding suddenly 



THE DUEL 179 

an enraged man flourishing a big sabre, the old chap 
trembling in all his limbs dropped the watering-pot. At 
once Lieut. Feraud kicked it away with great animosity, 
and, seizing the gardener by the throat, backed him 
against a tree. He held him there, shouting in his ear, 
"Stay here, and look on! You understand? You've 
got to look on! Don't dare budge from the spot!" 

Lieut. D'Hubert came slowly down the walk, un- 
clasping his dolman with unconcealed disgust. Even 
then, with his hand already on the hilt of his sword, he 
hesitated to draw till a roar, "En garde, fichtrel What 
do you think you came here for?" and the rush of his 
adversary forced him to put himself as quickly as pos- 
sible in a posture of defence. 

The clash of arms filled that prim garden, which 
hitherto had known no more warlike sound than the 
click of clipping shears; and presently the upper part of 
an old lady's body was projected out of a window up- 
stairs. She tossed her arms above her white cap, 
scolding in a cracked voice. The gardener remained 
glued to the tree, his toothless mouth open in idiotic 
astonishment, and a little farther up the path the pretty 
girl, as if spellbound to a small grass plot, ran a few 
steps this way and that, wringing her hands and mutter- 
ing crazily. She did not rush between the combatants: 
the onslaughts of Lieut. Feraud were so fierce that her 
heart failed her. Lieut. D'Hubert, his faculties concen- 
trated upon defence, needed all his skill and science of 
the sword to stop the rushes of his adversary. Twice 
already he had to break ground. It bothered him to 
feel his foothold made insecure by the round, dry gravel 
of the path rolling under the hard soles of his boots. 
This was most unsuitable ground, he thought, keeping 
a watchful, narrowed gaze, shaded by long eyelashes, 
upon the fiery stare of his thick-set adversary. This 



180 THE DUEL 

absurd affair would ruin his reputation of a sensible, 
well-behaved, promising young officer. It would 
damage, at any rate, his immediate prospects, and lose 
him the good-will of his general. These worldly pre- 
occupations were no doubt misplaced in view of the 
solemnity of the moment. A duel, whether regarded as 
a ceremony in the cult of honour, or even when reduced 
in its moral essence to a form of manly sport, demands a 
perfect singleness of intention, a homicidal austerity of 
mood. On the other hand, this vivid concern for his 
future had not a bad effect inasmuch as it began to 
rouse the anger of Lieut. D'Hubert. Some seventy 
seconds had elapsed since they had crossed blades, and 
Lieut. D'Hubert had to break ground again in order to 
avoid impaling his reckless adversary like a beetle for a 
cabinet of specimens. The result was that misappre- 
hending the motive, Lieut. Feraud with a triumphant 
sort of snarl pressed his attack. 

"This enraged animal will have me against the wall 
directly," thought Lieut. D'Hubert. He imagined him- 
self much closer to the house than he was, and he dared 
not turn his head; it seemed to him that he was keeping 
his adversary off with his eyes rather more than with his 
point. Lieut. Feraud crouched and bounded with a 
fierce tigerish agility fit to trouble the stoutest heart. 
But what was more appalling than the fury of a wild 
beast, accomplishing in all innocence of heart a natural 
function, was the fixity of savage purpose man alone is 
capable of displaying. Lieut. D 'Hubert in the midst of 
his worldly preoccupations perceived it at last. It was 
an absurd and damaging affair to be drawn into, but 
whatever silly intention the fellow had started with, it 
was clear enough that by this time he meant to kill 
nothing less. He meant it with an intensity of will 
utterly beyond the inferior faculties of a tiger. 



THE DUEL 181 

As is the case with constitutionally brave men, the 
full view of the danger interested Lieut. D'Hubert, 
And directly he got properly interested, the length of his 
arm and the coolness of his head told in his favour. It 
was the turn of Lieut. Feraud to recoil, with a blood- 
curdling grunt of baffled rage. He made a swift feint, 
and then rushed straight forward. 

"Ah! you would, would you?" Lieut. D'Hubert 
exclaimed, mentally. The combat had lasted nearly 
two minutes, time enough for any man to get em- 
bittered, apart from the merits of the quarrel. And 
all at once it was over. Trying to close breast to breast 
under his adversary's guard Lieut. Feraud received a 
slash on his shortened arm. He did not feel it in the 
least, but it checked his rush, and his feet slipping on 
the gravel he fell backwards with great violence. The 
shock jarred his boiling brain into the perfect quietude 
of insensibility. Simultaneously with his fall the pretty 
servant-girl shrieked; but the old maiden lady at the 
window ceased her scolding, and began to cross her- 
self piously. 

Beholding his adversary stretched out perfectly still, 
his face to the sky, Lieut. D'Hubert thought he had 
killed him outright. The impression of having slashed 
hard enough to cut his man clean in two abode with 
him for a while in an exaggerated memory of the right 
good-will he had put into the blow. He dropped on 
his knees hastily by the side of the prostrate body. 
Discovering that not even the arm was severed, a 
slight sense of disappointment mingled with the feeling 
of relief. The fellow deserved the worst. But truly he 
did not want the death of that sinner. The affair was 
ugly enough as it stood, and Lieut. D'Hubert addressed 
himself at once to the task of stopping the bleeding. In 
this task it was his fate to be ridiculously impeded by 



182 THE DUEL 

the pretty maid. Rending the air with screams of 
horror, she attacked him from behind and, twining her 
fingers in his hair, tugged back at his head. Why she 
should choose to hinder him at this precise moment 
he could not in the least understand. He did not try. 
It was all like a very wicked and harassing dream. 
Twice to save himself from being pulled over he had to 
rise and fling her off. He did this stoically, without a 
word, kneeling down again at once to go on with his 
work. But the third time, his work being done, he 
seized her and held her arms pinned to her body. Her 
cap was half off, her face was red, her eyes blazed with 
crazy boldness. He looked mildly into them while she 
called him a wretch, a traitor, and a murderer many 
times in succession. This did not annoy him so much as 
the conviction that she had managed to scratch his face 
abundantly. Ridicule would be added to the scandal of 
the story. He imagined the adorned tale making its 
way through the garrison of the town, through the whole 
army on the frontier, with every possible distortion of 
motive and sentiment and circumstance, spreading a 
doubt upon the sanity of his conduct and the distinction 
of his taste even to the very ears of his honourable 
family. It was all very well for that fellow Feraud, who 
had no connections, no family to speak of, and no 
quality but courage, which, anyhow, was a matter of 
course, and possessed by every single trooper in the 
whole mass of French cavalry. Still holding down the 
arms of the girl in a strong grip, Lieut. D'Hubert 
glanced over his shoulder. Lieut. Feraud had opened 
his eyes. He did not move. Like a man just waking 
from a deep sleep he stared without any expression at 
the evening sky. 

Lieut. D'Hubert's urgent shouts to the old gardener 
produced no effect not so much as to make him shut 



THE DUEL 183 

his toothless mouth. Then he remembered that the 
man was stone deaf. All that time the girl struggled, 
not with maidenly coyness, but like a pretty, dumb fury, 
kicking his shins now and then. He continued to hold 
her as if in a vice, his instinct telling him that were lie 
to let her go she would fly at his eyes. But he was 
greatly humiliated by his position. At last she gave up. 
She was more exhausted than appeased, he feared. 
Nevertheless, he attempted to get out of this wicked 
dream by way of negotiation. 

"Listen to me," he said, as calmly as he could. 
"Will you promise to run for a surgeon if I let you go?" 

With real affliction he heard her declare that she 
would do nothing of the kind. On the contrary, her 
sobbed out intention was to remain in the garden, and 
fight tooth and nail for the protection of the vanquished 
man. This was shocking. 

"My dear child!" he cried in despair, "is it possible 
that you think me capable of murdering a wounded 
adversary? Is it. ... Be quiet, you little wild 
cat, you!" 

They struggled. A thick, drowsy voice said behind 
him, "What are you after with that girl?" 

Lieut. Feraud had raised himself on his good arm. 
He was looking sleepily at his other arm, at the mess of 
blood on his uniform, at a small red pool on the ground, 
at his sabre lying a foot away on the path. Then he 
laid himself down gently again to think it all out, as 
far as a thundering headache would permit of mental 
operations. 

Lieut. D'Hubert released the girl who crouched at 
once by the side of the other lieutenant. The shades 
of night were falling on the little trim garden with this 
touching group, whence proceeded low murmurs of 
sorrow and compassion, with other feeble sounds of a 



184 THE DUEL 

different character, as if an imperfectly awake invalid 
were trying to swear. Lieut. D'Hubert went away. 

He passed through the silent house, and congratu- 
lated himself upon the dusk concealing his gory hands 
and scratched face from the passers-by. But this story 
could by no means be concealed. He dreaded the 
discredit and ridicule above everything, and was pain- 
fully aware of sneaking through the back streets in 
the manner of a murderer. Presently the sounds of 
a flute coming out of the open window of a lighted 
upstairs room in a modest house interrupted his dismal 
reflections. It was being played with a persevering 
virtuosity, and through the fwritures of the tune one 
could hear the regular thumping of the foot beating 
time on the floor. 

Lieut. D'Hubert shouted a name, which was that of 
an army surgeon whom he knew fairly well. The 
sounds of the flute ceased, and the musician appeared at 
the window, his instrument still in his hand, peering into 
the street. 

"Who calls? You, D'Hubert? What brings you 
this way?" 

He did not like to be disturbed at the hour when he 
was playing the flute. He was a man whose hair had 
turned grey already in the thankless task of tying up 
wounds on battlefields where others reaped advance- 
ment and glory. 

"I want you to go at once and see Feraud. You 
know Lieut. Feraud? He lives down the second street. 
It's but a step from here." 

"What's the matter with him?" 

"Wounded." 

"Are you sure?" 

" Sure ! " cried D'Hubert. " I come from there." 

"That's amusing," said the elderly surgeon. Amus- 



THE DUEL 185 

ing was his favourite word; but the expression of his 
face when he pronounced it never corresponded. He 
was a stolid man. "Come in," he added. "I'll get 
ready in a moment." 

"Thanks! I will. I want to wash my hands in 
your room." 

Lieut. D'Hubert found the surgeon occupied in un- 
screwing his flute, and packing the pieces methodically 
in a case. He turned his head. 

"Water there in the corner. Your hands do want 
washing." 

"I've stopped the bleeding," said Lieut. D'Hubert. 
"But you had better make haste. It's rather more 
than ten minutes ago, you know." 

The surgeon did not hurry his movements. 

"What's the matter? Dressing came off? That's 
amusing. I've been at work in the hospital all day 
but I've been told this morning by somebody that he 
had come off without a scratch." 

"Not the same duel probably," growled moodily 
Lieut. D'Hubert, wiping his hands on a coarse towel. 

"Not the same. . . . What? Another. It 
would take the very devil to make me go out twice in 
one day." The surgeon looked narrowly at Lieut. 
D'Hubert. "How did you come by that scratched 
face? Both sides, too and symmetrical. It's amus- 
ing." 

"Very!" snarled Lieut. D'Hubert. "And you will 
find his slashed arm amusing, too. It will keep both of 
you amused for quite a long time." 

The doctor was mystified and impressed by the 
brusque bitterness of Lieut. D'Hubert's tone. They 
left the house together, and in the street he was still 
more mystified by his conduct. 

"Aren't you coming with me?" he asked. 



186 THE DUEL 

"No," said Lieut. D'Hubert. "You can find the 
house by yourself. The front door will be standing 
open very likely." 

" All right. Where's his room? " 

" Ground floor. But you had better go right through 
and look in the garden first." 

This astonishing piece of information made the 
surgeon go off without further parley. Lieut. D'Hu- 
bert regained his quarters nursing a hot and uneasy 
indignation. He dreaded the chaff of his comrades al- 
most as much as the anger of his superiors. The truth 
was confoundedly grotesque and embarrassing, even 
putting aside the irregularity of the combat itself, which 
made it come abominably near a criminal offence. Like 
all men without much imagination, a faculty which 
helps the process of reflective thought, Lieut. D'Hubert 
became frightfully harassed by the obvious aspects of 
his predicament. He was certainly glad that he had not 
killed Lieut. Feraud outside all rules, and without the 
regular witnesses proper to such a transaction. Un- 
commonly glad. At the same time he felt as though he 
would have liked to wring his neck for him without 
ceremony. 

He was still under the sway of these contradictory 
sentiments when the surgeon amateur of the flute came 
to see him. More than three days had elapsed. Lieut. 
D'Hubert was no longer officier d'ordonnance to the 
general commanding the division. He had been sent 
back to his regiment. And he was resuming his con- 
nection with the soldiers' military family by being shut 
up in close confinement, not at his own quarters in town, 
but in a room in the barracks. Owing to the gravity of 
the incident, he was forbidden to see any one. He 
did not know what had happened, what was being 
said, or what was being thought. The arrival of the 



THE DUEL 187 

surgeon was a most unexpected thing to the worried 
captive. The amateur of the flute began by explaining 
that he was there only by a special favour of the colonel. 

" I represented to him that it would be only fair to let 
you have some authentic news of your adversary," he 
continued. " You'll be glad to hear he's getting better 
fast." 

Lieut. D'Hubert's face exhibited no conventional 
signs of gladness. He continued to walk the floor of 
the dusty bare room. 

"Take this chair, doctor," he mumbled. 

The doctor sat down. 

"This affair is variously appreciated in town and in 
the army. In fact, the diversity of opinions is amus- 
ing." 

"Is it!" mumbled Lieut. D'Hubert, tramping steadily 
from wall to wall. But within himself he marvelled 
that there could be two opinions on the matter. The 
surgeon continued. 

"Of course, as the real facts are not known " 

"I should have thought," interrupted D'Hubert, "that 
the fellow would have put you in possession of facts." 

"He said something," admitted the other, "the first 
time I saw him. And, by the by, I did find him in the 
garden. The thump on the back of his head had made 
him a little incoherent then. Afterwards he was rather 
reticent than otherwise." 

"Didn't think he would have the grace to be 
ashamed!" mumbled D'Hubert, resuming his pacing 
while the doctor murmured, "It's very amusing. 
Ashamed! Shame was not exactly his frame of mind. 
However, you may look at the matter otherwise." 

"What are you talking about? What matter?" 
asked D'Hubert, with a sidelong look at the heavy- 
faced, grey -haired figure seated on a wooden chair. 



188 THE DUEL 

*' Whatever it is," said the surgeon a little im- 
patiently, "I don't want to pronounce any opinion on 
your conduct " 

"By heavens, you had better not!" burst out D'Hu- 
bert. 

"There! there! Don't be so quick in flourishing 
the sword. It doesn't pay in the long run. Under- 
stand once for all that I would not carve any of you 
youngsters except with the tools of my trade. But my 
advice is good. If you go on like this you will make for 
yourself an ugly reputation." 

"Go on like what?" demanded Lieut. D'Hubert, 
stopping short, quite startled. "I! I! make for my- 
self a reputation. . . . What do you imagine?" 

"I told you I don't wish to judge of the rights and 
wrongs of this incident. It's not my business. Never- 
theless" 

" What on earth has he been telling you? " interrupted 
Lieut. D'Hubert, in a sort of awed scare. 

"I told you already, that at first, when I picked him 
up in the garden, he was incoherent. Afterwards he 
was naturally reticent. But I gather at least that he 
could not help himself." 

"He couldn't?" shouted Lieut. D'Hubert in a great 
voice. Then, lowering his tone impressively, "And 
what about me? Could I help myself?" 

The surgeon stood up. His thoughts were running 
upon the flute, his constant companion with a consoling 
voice. In the vicinity of field ambulances, after twenty- 
four hours' hard work, he had been known to trouble 
with its sweet sounds the horrible stillness of battle- 
fields, given over to silence and the dead. The solacing 
hour of his daily life was approaching, and in peace time 
he held on to the minutes as a miser to his hoard. 

"Of course! of course!" he said, perfunctorily. 



THE DUEL 189 

"You would think so. It's amusing. However, being 
perfectly neutral and friendly to you both, I have con- 
sented to deliver his message to you. Say that I am 
humouring an invalid if you like. He wants you to 
know that this affair is by no means at an end. He 
intends to send you his seconds directly he has regained 
his strength providing, of course, the army is not in 
the field at that time." 

"He intends, does he? Why, certainly," spluttered 
Lieut. D'Hubert in a passion. 

The secret of his exasperation was not apparent to 
the visitor; but this passion confirmed the surgeon in 
the belief which was gaining ground outside that some 
very serious difference had arisen between these two 
young men, something serious enough to wear an air of 
mystery, some fact of the utmost gravity. To settle 
their urgent difference about that fact, those two young 
men had risked being broken and disgraced at the out- 
set almost of their career. The surgeon feared that the 
forthcoming inquiry would fail to satisfy the public 
curiosity. They would not take the public into their 
confidence as to that something which had passed 
between them of a nature so outrageous as to make 
them face a charge of murder neither more nor less. 
But what could it be? 

The surgeon was not very curious by temperament; 
but that question haunting his mind caused him twice 
that evening to hold the instrument off his lips and 
sit silent for a whole minute right in the middle of a 
tune trying to form a plausible conjecture. 

II 

He succeeded in this object no better than the rest 
of the garrison and the whole of society. The two 



190 THE DUEL 

young officers, of no especial consequence till then, be- 
came distinguished by the universal curiosity as to the 
origin of their quarrel. Madame de Lionne's salon was 
the centre of ingenious surmises; that lady herself was 
for a time assailed by inquiries as being the last person 
known to have spoken to these unhappy and reckless 
young men before they went out together from her 
house to a savage encounter with swords, at dusk, in a 
private garden. She protested she had not observed 
anything unusual in their demeanour. Lieut. Feraud 
had been visibly annoyed at being called away. That 
was natural enough; no man likes to be disturbed in a 
conversation with a lady famed for her elegance and 
sensibility. But in truth the subject bored Madame 
de Lionne, since her personality could by no stretch of 
reckless gossip be connected with this affair. And it 
irritated her to hear it advanced that there might have 
been some woman in the case. This irritation arose, 
not from her elegance or sensibility, but from a more 
instinctive side of her nature. It became so great at 
last that she peremptorily forbade the subject to be 
mentioned under her roof. Near her couch the pro- 
hibition was obeyed, but farther off in the salon the pall 
of the imposed silence continued to be lifted more or 
less. A personage with a long, pale face, resembling 
the countenance of a sheep, opined, shaking his head, 
that it was a quarrel of long standing envenomed by 
time. It was objected to him that the men themselves 
were too young for such a theory. They belonged also 
to different and distant parts of France. There were 
other physical impossibilities, too. A sub-commissary 
of the Intendence, an agreeable and cultivated bachelor 
in kerseymere breeches, Hessian boots, and a blue coat 
embroidered with silver lace, who affected to believe in 
the transmigration of souls, suggested that the two had 



THE DUEL 191 

met perhaps in some previous existence. The feud was 
in the forgotten past. It might have been something 
quite inconceivable in the present state of their being; 
but their souls remembered the animosity, and mani- 
fested an instinctive antagonism. He developed this 
theme jocularly. Yet the affair was so absurd from the 
worldly, the military, the honourable, or the prudential 
point of view, that this weird explanation seemed 
rather more reasonable than any other. 

The two officers had confided nothing definite to 
any one. Humiliation at having been worsted arms 
in hand, and an uneasy feeling of having been involved 
in a scrape by the injustice of fate, kept Lieut. Feraud 
savagely dumb. He mistrusted the sympathy of man- 
kind. That would, of course, go to that dandified 
staff officer. Lying in bed, he raved aloud to the pretty 
maid who administered to his needs with devotion, and 
listened to his horrible imprecations with alarm. That 
Lieut. D'Hubert should be made to "pay for it," seemed 
to her just and natural. Her principal care was that 
Lieut. Feraud should not excite himself. He appeared 
so wholly admirable and fascinating to the humility of 
her heart that her only concern was to see him get well 
quickly, even if it were only to resume his visits to 
Madame de Lionne's salon. 

Lieut. D'Hubert kept silent for the immediate reason 
that there was no one, except a stupid young soldier 
servant, to speak to. Further, he was aware that the 
episode, so grave professionally, had its comic side. 
When reflecting upon it, he still felt that he would like 
to wring Lieut. Feraud's neck for him. But this formula 
was figurative rather than precise, and expressed more 
a state of mind than an actual physical impulse. At 
the same time, there was in that young man a feeling of 
comradeship and kindness which made him unwilling to 



192 THE DUEL 

make the position of Lieut. Feraud worse than it was. 
He did not want to talk at large about this wretched 
affair. At the inquiry he would have, of course, to speak 
the truth in self-defence. This prospect vexed him. 

But no inquiry took place. The army took the field 
instead. Lieut. D'Hubert, liberated without remark, 
took up his regimental duties; and Lieut. Feraud, his 
arm just out of the sling, rode unquestioned with his 
squadron to complete his convalescence in the smoke of 
battlefields and the fresh air of night bivouacs. This 
bracing treatment suited him so well, that at the first 
rumour of an armistice being signed he could turn with- 
out misgivings to the thoughts of his private warfare. 

This time it was to be regular warfare. He sent 
two friends to Lieut. D'Hubert, whose regiment was 
stationed only a few miles away. Those friends had 
asked no questions of their principal. "I owe him one, 
that pretty staff officer/' he had said, grimly, and they 
went away quite contentedly on their mission. Lieut. 
D'Hubert had no difficulty in finding two friends 
equally discreet and devoted to their principal. 
"There's a crazy fellow to whom I must give a lesson/' 
he had declared curtly; and they asked for no better 
reasons. 

On these grounds an encounter with duelling-swords 
was arranged one early morning in a convenient field. 
At the third set-to Lieut. D'Hubert found himself lying 
on his back on the dewy grass with a hole in his side. 
A serene sun rising over a landscape of meadows and 
woods hung on his left. A surgeon not the flute 
player, but another was bending over him, feeling 
around the wound. 

"Narrow squeak. But it will be nothing," he pro- 
nounced. 

Lieut. D'Hubert heard these words with pleasure* 



THE DUEL 193 

One of his seconds, sitting on the wet grass, and sus- 
taining his head on his lap, said, "The fortune of war, 
mon pauvre vieux. What will you have? You had better 
make it up like two good fellows. Do!" 

"You don't know what you ask," murmured Lieut. 
D'Hubert, in a feeble voice. "However, if he . . ." 

In another part of the meadow the seconds of Lieut. 
Feraud were urging him to go over and shake hands 
with his adversary. 

"You have paid him of? now que (liable. It's the 
proper thing to do. This D'Hubert is a decent fellow." 

"I know the decency of these generals' pets," 
muttered Lieut. Feraud through his teeth, and the 
sombre expression of his face discouraged further 
efforts at reconciliation. The seconds, bowing from a 
distance, took their men off the field. In the afternoon 
Lieut. D'Hubert, very popular as a good comrade 
uniting great bravery with a frank and equable temper, 
had many visitors. It was remarked that Lieut. 
Feraud did not, as is customary, show himself much 
abroad to receive the felicitations of his friends. They 
would not have failed him, because he, too, was liked for 
the exuberance of his southern nature and the sim- 
plicity of his character. In all the places where officers 
were in the habit of assembling at the end of the day the 
duel of the morning was talked over from every point 
of view. Though Lieut. D'Hubert had got worsted 
this time, his sword play was commended. No one 
could deny that it was very close, very scientific. It 
was even whispered that if he got touched it was be- 
cause he wished to spare his adversary. But by many 
the vigour and dash of Lieut. Feraud's attack were pro- 
nounced irresistible. 

The merits of the two officers as combatants were 
frankly discussed; but their attitude to each other after 



194 THE DUEL 

the duel was criticised lightly and with caution. It 
was irreconcilable, and that was to be regretted. But 
after all they knew best what the care of their honour 
dictated. It was not a matter for their comrades 
to pry into over-much. As to the origin of the quarrel, 
the general impression was that it dated from the time 
they were holding garrison in Strasbourg. The musical 
surgeon shook his head at that. It went much farther 
back, he thought. 

"Why, of course! You must know the whole story/' 
cried several voices, eager with curiosity. "What 
was it?" 

He raised his eyes from his glass deliberately. " Even 
if I knew ever so well, you can't expect me to tell you, 
since both the principals choose to say nothing." 

He got up and went out, leaving the sense of mystery 
behind him. He could not stay any longer, because the 
witching hour of flute-playing was drawing near. 

After he had gone a very young officer observed 
solemnly, "Obviously, his lips are sealed!" 

Nobody questioned the high correctness of that 
remark. Somehow it added to the impressiveness of 
the affair. Several older officers of both regiments, 
prompted by nothing but sheer kindness and love of 
harmony, proposed to form a Court of Honour, to 
which the two young men would leave the task of their 
reconciliation. Unfortunately they began by approach- 
ing Lieut. Feraud, on the assumption that, having just 
scored heavily, he would be found placable and disposed 
to moderation. 

The reasoning was sound enough. Nevertheless, the 
move turned out unfortunate. In that relaxation of 
moral fibre, which is brought about by the ease of 
soothed vanity, Lieut. Feraud had condescended in the 
secret of his heart to review the case, and even had come 



THE DUEL 195 

to doubt not the justice of his cause, but the absolute 
sagacity of his conduct. This being so, he was dis- 
inclined to talk about it. The suggestion of the regi- 
mental wise men put him in a difficult position. He 
was disgusted at it, and this disgust, by a paradoxical 
logic, reawakened his animosity against Lieut. D'Hu- 
bert. Was he to be pestered with this fellow for ever 
the fellow who had an infernal knack of getting round 
people somehow? And yet it was difficult to refuse 
point blank that mediation sanctioned by the code of 
honour. 

He met the difficulty by an attitude of grim reserve. 
He twisted his moustache and used vague words. His 
case was perfectly clear. He was not ashamed to 
state it before a proper Court of Honour, neither was 
he afraid to defend it on the ground. He did not see 
any reason to jump at the suggestion before ascertain- 
ing how his adversary was likely to take it. 

Later in the day, his exasperation growing upon him, 
he was heard in a public place saying sardonically, "that 
it would be the very luckiest thing for Lieut. D'Hubert, 
because the next time of meeting he need not hope to 
get off with the mere trifle of three weeks in bed." 

This boastful phrase might have been prompted by 
the most profound Machiavellism. Southern natures 
often hide, under the outward impulsiveness of action 
and speech, a certain amount of astuteness. 

Lieut. Feraud, mistrusting the justice of men, by no 
means desired a Court of Honour; and the above words, 
according so well with his temperament, had also the 
merit of serving his turn. Whether meant so or not, 
they found their way in less than f our-and-twenty hours 
into Lieut. D'Hubert's bedroom. In consequence 
Lieut. D'Hubert, sitting propped up with pillows, re- 
ceived the overtures made to him next day by the state- 



196 THE DUEL 

ment that the affair was of a nature which could not 
bear discussion. 

The pale face of the wounded officer, his weak voice 
which he had yet to use cautiously, and the courteous 
dignity of his tone had a great effect on his hearers. 
Reported outside all this did more for deepening the 
mystery than the vapourings of Lieut. Feraud. This 
last was greatly relieved at the issue. He began to 
enjoy the state of general wonder, and was pleased to 
add to it by assuming an attitude of fierce discretion. 

The colonel of Lieut. D'Hubert's regiment was a 
grey-haired, weather-beaten warrior, who took a simple 
view of his responsibilities. "I can't," he said to him- 
self, "let the best of my subalterns get damaged like this 
for nothing. I must get to the bottom of this aaair 
privately. He must speak out if the devil were in it. 
The colonel should be more than a father to these 
youngsters." And indeed he loved all his men with as 
much affection as a father of a large family can feel for 
every individual member of it. If human beings by an 
oversight of Providence came into the world as mere 
civilians, they were bom again into a regiment as in- 
fants are born into a family, and it was that military 
birth alone which counted. 

At the sight of Lieut. DTIubert standing before him 
very bleached and hollow-eyed the heart of the old 
warrior felt a pang of genuine compassion. All his 
affection for the regiment that body of men which he 
held in his hand to launch forward and draw back, who 
ministered to his pride and commanded all his thoughts 
seemed centred for a moment on the person of the 
most promising subaltern. He cleared his throat in a 
threatening manner, and frowned terribly. " You must 
understand," he began, "that I don't care a rap for the 
life of a single man in the regiment. I would send the 



THE DUEL 197 

eight hundred and forty-three of you men and horses 
galloping into the pit of perdition with no more com- 
punction than I would kill a fly!" 

"Yes, Colonel. You would be riding at our head/* 
said Lieut. D'Hubert with a wan smile. 

The colonel, who felt the need of being very diplo- 
matic, fairly roared at this. "I want you to know, 
Lieut. D'Hubert, that I could stand aside and see you 
all riding to Hades if need be. I am a man to do even 
that if the good of the service and my duty to my 
country required it from me. But that's unthinkable, 
so don't you even hint at such a thing." He glared 
awfully, but his tone softened. "There's some milk 
yet about that moustache of yours, my boy. You don't 
know what a man like me is capable of. I would hide 
behind a haystack if ... Don't grin at me, sir! 
How dare you? If this were not a private conversation 
I would . . . Look here! I am responsible for the 
proper expenditure of lives under mj command for the 
glory of our country and the honour of the regiment. 
Do you understand that? Well, then, what the devil do 
you mean by letting yourself be spitted like this by that 
fellow of the 7th Hussars? It's simply disgraceful!" 

Lieut. D'Hubert felt vexed beyond measure. His 
shoulders moved slightly. He made no other answer. 
He could not ignore his responsibility. 

The colonel veiled his glance and lowered his voice 
still more. "It's deplorable!" he murmured. And 
again he changed his tone. "Come!" he went on, 
persuasively, but with that note of authority which 
dwells in the throat of a good leader of men, "this affair 
must be settled. I desire to be told plainly what it is 
all about. I demand, as your best friend, to know." 

The compelling power of authority, the persuasive 
influence of kindness, affected powerfully a man just 



198 THE DUEL 

risen from a bed of sickness. Lieut. D'Hubert's hand, 
which grasped the knob of a stick, trembled slightly. 
But his northern temperament, sentimental yet cautious 
and clear-sighted, too, in its idealistic way, checked his 
impulse to make a clean breast of the whole deadly 
absurdity. According to the precept of transcendental 
wisdom, he turned his tongue seven times in his mouth 
before he spoke. He made then only a speech of 
thanks. 

The colonel listened, interested at first, then looked 
mystified. At last he frowned. "You hesitate? 
mille tonnerres ! Haven't I told you that I will con- 
descend to argue with you as a friend?" 

"Yes, Colonel!" answered Lieut. D'Hubert, gently. 
"But I am afraid that after you have heard me out as a 
friend you will take action as my superior officer." 

The attentive colonel snapped his jaws. "Well, 
what of that?" he said, frankly. "Is it so damnably 
disgraceful?" 

"It is not," negatived Lieut. D'Hubert, in a faint but 
firm voice. 

"Of course, I shall act for the good of the service. 
Nothing can prevent me doing that. What do you 
think I want to be told for?" 

"I know it is not from idle curiosity," protested 
Lieut. D'Hubert. "I know you will act wisely. But 
what about the good fame of the regiment?" 

"It cannot be affected by any youthful folly of a 
lieutenant," said the colonel, severely. 

"No. It cannot be. But it can be by evil tongues. 
It will be said that a lieutenant of the 4th Hussars, 
afraid of meeting his adversary, is hiding behind his 
colonel. And that would be worse than hiding behind ' 
a haystack for the good of the service. I cannot 
afford to do that, Colonel." 



THE DUEL 199 

"Nobody would dare to say anything of the kind/* 
began the colonel very fiercely, but ended the phrase on 
an uncertain note. The bravery of Lieut. D'Hubert 
was well known. But the colonel was well aware that 
the duelling courage, the single combat courage, is 
rightly or wrongly supposed to be courage of a special 
sort. And it was eminently necessary that an officer of 
his regiment should possess every kind of courage and 
prove it, too. The colonel stuck out his lower lip, and 
looked far away with a peculiar glazed stare. This was 
the expression of his perplexity an expression practi- 
cally unknown to his regiment; for perplexity is a senti- 
ment which is incompatible with the rank of colonel of 
cavalry. The colonel himself was overcome by the 
unpleasant novelty of the sensation. As he was not 
accustomed to think except on professional matters 
connected with the welfare of men and horses, and the 
proper use thereof on the field of glory, his intellectual 
efforts degenerated into mere mental repetitions of pro- 
fane language. " Mille tonnerres ! . . . Sacre nom 
de nom . . ." he thought. 

Lieut. D'Hubert coughed painfully, and added in a 
weary voice: "There will be plenty of evil tongues to 
say that I've been cowed. And I am sure you will not 
expect me to pass that over. I may find myself 
suddenly with a dozen duels on my hands instead of 
this one affair." 

The direct simplicity of this argument came home to 
the colonel's understanding. He looked at his subordi- 
nate fixedly. "Sit down, Lieutenant!" he said, gruffly. 
"This is the very devil of a ... Sit down!" 

"Mon Colonel" D'Hubert began again, "I am not 
afraid of evil tongues. There's a way of silencing them. 
But there's my peace of mind, too. I wouldn't be able 
to shake off the notion that I've ruined a brother officer. 



200 THE DUEL 

Whatever action you take, it is bound to go farther. 
The inquiry has been dropped let it rest now. It 
would have been absolutely fatal to Feraud." 

"Hey! What! Did he behave so badly?" 

" Yes. It was pretty bad," muttered Lieut. D'Hubert. 
Being still very weak, he felt a disposition to cry. 

As the other man did not belong to his own regiment 
the colonel had no difficulty in believing this. He began 
to pace up and down the room. He was a good chief, a 
man capable of discreet sympathy. But he was human 
in other ways, too, and this became apparent because he 
was not capable of artifice. 

"The very devil, Lieutenant," he blurted out, in the 
innocence of his heart, "is that I have declared my in- 
tention to get to the bottom of this affair. And when a 
colonel says something . . . you see . . ." 

Lieut. D'Hubert broke in earnestly: "Let me en- 
treat you, Colonel, to be satisfied with taking my word 
of honour that I was put into a damnable position where 
I had no option; I had no choice whatever, consistent 
with my dignity as a man and an officer. . . . After 
all, Colonel, this fact is the very bottom of this affair. 
Here you've got it. The rest is mere detail. . . ." 

The colonel stopped short. The reputation of Lieut. 
D'Hubert for good sense and good temper weighed in 
the balance. A cool head, a warm heart, open as the 
day. Always correct in his behaviour. One had to 
trust him. The colonel repressed manfully an im- 
mense curiosity. "H'm! You affirm that as a man 
and an officer. . . . No option? Eh?" 

"As an officer an officer of the 4th Hussars, too," 
insisted Lieut. D'Hubert, "I had not. And that is the 
bottom of the affair, Colonel." 

"Yes. But still I don't see why, to one's colonel. . . . 
A colonel is a father que diable /" 



THE DUEL 201 

Lieut. D'Hubert ought not to have been allowed out 
as yet. He was becoming aware of his physical in- 
sufficiency with humiliation and despair. But the 
morbid obstinacy of an invalid possessed him, and at 
the same time he felt with dismay his eyes filling with 
water. This trouble seemed too big to handle. A tear 
fell down the thin, pale cheek of Lieut. D'Hubert. 

The colonel turned his back on him hastily. You 
could have heard a pin drop. "This is some silly 
woman story is it not?" 

Saying these words the chief spun round to seize the 
truth, which is not a beautiful shape living in a well, but 
a shy bird best caught by stratagem. This was the last 
move of the colonel's diplomacy. He saw the truth 
shining unmistakably in the gesture of Lieut. D'Hubert 
raising his weak arms and his eyes to heaven in supreme 
protest. 

"Not a woman affair eh?" growled the colonel, 
staring hard. "I don't ask you who or where. All I 
want to know is whether there is a woman in it?" 

Lieut. D'Hubert's arms dropped, and his weak voice 
was pathetically broken. 

"Nothing of the kind, man Colonel.' 9 

"On your honour?" insisted the old warrior. 

"On my honour." 

"Very well," said the colonel, thoughtfully, and bit 
his lip. The arguments of Lieut. D'Hubert, helped by 
his liking for the man, had convinced him. On the 
other hand, it was highly improper that his intervention, 
of which he had made no secret, should produce no 
visible effect. He kept Lieut. D'Hubert a few minutes 
longer, and dismissed him kindly. 

"Take a few days more in bed, Lieutenant. What 
the devil does the surgeon mean by reporting you fit for 
duty?" 



202 THE DUEL 

On coming out of the colonel's quarters, Lieut. 
D 'Hubert said nothing to the friend who was waiting 
outside to take him home. He said nothing to anybody. 
Lieut. D 'Hubert made no confidences. But on the 
evening of that day the colonel, strolling under the elms 
growing near his quarters, in the company of his second 
in command, opened his lips. 

"I've got to the bottom of this affair," he remarked. 

The lieut.-colonel, a dry, brown chip of a man with 
short side-whiskers, pricked up his ears at that without 
letting a sign of curiosity escape him. 

"It's no trifle," added the colonel, oracularly. The 
other waited for a long while before he murmured : 

"Indeed, sir!" 

"No trifle," repeated the colonel, looking straight 
before him. " I've, however, forbidden D'Hubert either 
to send to or receive a challenge from Feraud for the 
next twelve months." 

He had imagined this prohibition to save the prestige 
a colonel should have. The result of it was to give an 
official seal to the mystery surrounding this deadly 
quarrel. Lieut. D'Hubert repelled by an impassive 
silence all attempts to worm the truth out of him. Lieut. 
Feraud, secretly uneasy at first, regained his assurance 
as time went on. He disguised his ignorance of the 
meaning of the imposed truce by slight sardonic laughs, 
as though he were amused by what he intended to keep 
to himself. "But what will you do?" his chums used 
to ask him. He contented himself by replying "Qui 
vivra verra" with a little truculent air. And everybody 
admired his discretion. 

Before the end of the truce Lieut. D'Hubert got his 
troop. The promotion was well earned, but somehow 
no one seemed to expect the event. When Lieut. 
Feraud heard of it at a gathering of officers, he muttered 



THE DUEL 203 

through his teeth, "Is that so?" At once he unhooked 
his sabre from a peg near the door, buckled it on care- 
fully, and left the company without another word. He 
walked home with measured steps, struck a light with 
his flint and steel, and lit his tallow candle. Then 
snatching an unlucky glass tumbler off the mantelpiece 
he dashed it violently on the floor. 

Now that D'Hubert was an officer of superior rank 
there could be no question of a duel. Neither of them 
could send or receive a challenge without rendering 
himself amenable to a court-martial. It was not to be 
thought of. Lieut. Feraud, who for many days now had 
experienced no real desire to meet Lieut. D'Hubert arms 
in hand, chafed again at the systematic injustice of fate. 
"Does he think he will escape me in that way?" he 
thought, indignantly. He saw in this promotion an 
intrigue, a conspiracy, a cowardly manoeuvre. That 
colonel knew what he was doing. He had hastened to 
recommend his favourite for a step. It was outrageous 
that a man should be able to avoid the consequences of 
his acts in such a dark and tortuous manner. 

Of a happy-go-lucky disposition, of a temperament 
more pugnacious than military, Lieut. Feraud had been 
content to give and receive blows for sheer love of 
armed strife, and without much thought of advance- 
ment; but now an urgent desire to get on sprang up in 
his breast. This fighter by vocation resolved in his 
mind to seize showy occasions and to court the favour- 
able opinion of his chiefs like a mere worldling. He 
knew he was as brave as any one, and never doubted his 
personal charm. Nevertheless, neither the bravery nor 
the charm seemed to work very swiftly. Lieut. Feraud's 
engaging, careless truculence of a beau sabreur under- 
went a change. He began to make bitter allusions to 
"clever fellows who stick at nothing to get on." The 



204 THE DUEL 

army was full of them, he would say; you had only to 
look round. But all the time he had in view one person 
only, his adversary, D'Hubert. dice he confided to an 
appreciative friend: "You see, I don't know how to 
fawn on the right sort of people. It isn't in my charac- 
ter." 

He did not get his step till a week after Austerlitz. 
The Light Cavalry of the Grand Army had its hands 
very full of interesting work for a little while. Directly 
the pressure of professional occupation had been eased 
Captain Feraud took measures to arrange a meeting 
without loss of time. "I know my bird/' he observed, 
grimly. "If I don't look sharp he will take care to 
get himself promoted over the heads of a dozen better 
men than himself. He's got the knack for that sort of 
thing." 

This duel was fought in Silesia. If not fought 
to a finish, it was, at any rate, fought to a standstill. 
The weapon was the cavalry sabre, and the skill, the 
science, the vigour, and the determination displayed by 
the adversaries compelled the admiration of the be- 
holders. It became the subject of talk on both shores 
of the Danube, and as far as the garrisons of Gratz and 
Laybach. They crossed blades seven times. Both had 
many cuts which bled profusely. Both refused to have 
the combat stopped, time after time, with what ap- 
peared the most deadly animosity. This appearance was 
caused on the part of Captain D'Hubert by a rational 
desire to be done once for all with this worry; on the 
part of Captain Feraud by a tremendous exaltation of 
his pugnacious instincts and the incitement of wounded 
vanity. At last, dishevelled, their shirts in rags, covered 
with gore and hardly able to stand, they were led away 
forcibly by their marvelling and horrified seconds. 
Later on, besieged by comrades avid of details, these 



THE DUEL 205 

gentlemen declared that they could not have allowed 
that sort of hacking to go on indefinitely. Asked 
whether the quarrel was settled this time, they gave it 
out as their conviction that it was a difference which 
could only be settled by one of the parties remaining 
lifeless on the ground. The sensation spread from army 
corps to army corps, and penetrated at last to the 
smallest detachments of the troops cantoned be- 
tween the Rhine and the Save. In the cafes in Vienna 
it was generally estimated, from details to hand, 
that the adversaries would be able to meet again in 
three weeks' time on the outside. Something really 
transcendent in the way of duelling was expected. 

These expectations were brought to naught by the 
necessities of the service which separated the two 
officers. No official notice had been taken of their 
quarrel. It was now the property of the army, and not 
to be meddled with lightly. But the story of the duel, 
or rather their duelling propensities, must have stood 
somewhat in the way of their advancement, because 
they were still captains when they came together again 
during the war with Prussia. Detached north after 
Jena, with the army commanded by Marshal Berna- 
dotte, Prince of Ponte Corvo, they entered Llibeck 
together. 

It was only after the occupation of that town that 
Captain Feraud found leisure to consider his future con- 
duct in view of the fact that Captain D 'Hubert had 
been given the position of third aide-de-camp to the 
marshal. He considered it a great part of a night, and 
in the morning summoned two sympathetic friends. 

"I've been thinking it over calmly," he said, gazing 
at them with blood-shot, tired eyes. "I see that I must 
get rid of that intriguing personage. Here he's managed 
to sneak on to the personal staff of the marshal. It's a 



206 THE DUEL 

direct provocation to me. I can't tolerate a situation in 
which I am exposed any day to receive an order through 
him. And God knows what order, too! That sort of 
thing has happened once before and that's once too 
often. He understands this perfectly, never fear. I 
can't tell you any more. Now you know what it is you 
have to do." 

This encounter took place outside the town of 
Liibeck, on very open ground, selected with special 
care in deference to the general sentiment of the cavalry 
division belonging to the army corps, that this time the 
two officers should meet on horseback. After all, this 
duel was a cavalry affair, and to persist in fighting on 
foot would look like a slight on one's own arm of the 
service. The seconds, startled by the unusual nature of 
the suggestion, hastened to refer to their principals. 
Captain Feraud jumped at it with alacrity. For some 
obscure reason, depending, no doubt, on his psychology, 
he imagined himself invincible on horseback. All alone 
within the four walls of his room he rubbed his hands 
and muttered triumphantly, "Aha! my pretty staff 
officer, I've got you now." 

Captain D'Hubert on his side, after staring hard for 
a considerable time at his friends, shrugged his shoulders 
slightly. This affair had hopelessly and unreasonably 
complicated his existence for him. One absurdity more 
or less in the development did not matter all absurdity 
was distasteful to him; but, urbane as ever, he produced 
a faintly ironical smile, and said in his calm voice, "It 
certainly will do away to some extent with the monot- 
ony of the thing." 

When left alone, he sat down at a table and took his 
head into his hands. He had not spared himself of late 
and the marshal had been working all his aides-de- 
camp particularly hard. The last three weeks of 



THE DUEL 207 

campaigning in horrible weather had affected his health. 
When over-tired he suffered from a stitch in his 
wounded side, and that uncomfortable sensation always 
depressed him. "It's that brute's doing, too," he 
thought bitterly. 

The day before he had received a letter from home, 
announcing that his only sister was going to be married. 
He reflected that from the time she was nineteen and he 
twenty-six, when he went away to garrison life in Stras- 
bourg, he had had but two short glimpses of her. They 
had been great friends and confidants; and now she was 
going to be given away to a man whom he did not know 
a very worthy fellow no doubt, but not half good 
enough for her. He would never see his old Leonie 
again. She had a capable little head, and plenty of 
tact; she would know how to manage the fellow, to be 
sure. He was easy in his mind about her happiness 
but he felt ousted from the first place in her thoughts 
which had been his ever since the girl could speak. A 
melancholy regret of the days of his childhood settled 
upon Captain D'Hubert, third aide-de-camp to the 
Prince of Ponte Corvo. 

He threw aside the letter of congratulation he had 
b^gun to write as in duty bound, but without enthusi- 
asm. He took a fresh piece of paper, and traced on it 
the words: "This is my last will and testament." Look- 
ing at these words he gave himself up to unpleasant re- 
flection; a presentiment that he would never see the 
scenes of his childhood weighed down the equable 
spirits of Captain D'Hubert. He jumped up, pushing 
his chair back, yawned elaborately in sign that he didn't 
care anything for presentiments, and throwing himself 
on the bed went to sleep. During the night he shivered 
from time to time without waking up. In the morning 
he rode out of town between his two seconds, talking of 



208 THE DUEL 

indifferent things, and looking right and left with ap- 
parent detachment into the heavy morning mists 
'shrouding the flat green fields bordered by hedges. He 
leaped a ditch, and saw the forms of many mounted men 
moving in the fog. " We are to fight before a gallery, it 
seems/' he muttered to himself, bitterly. 

His seconds were rather concerned at the state of 
the atmosphere, but presently a pale, sickly sun 
struggled out of the low vapours, and Captain D'Hubert 
made out, in the distance, three horsemen riding a little 
apart from the others. It was Captain Feraud and 
his seconds. He drew his sabre, and assured himself 
that it was properly fastened to his wrist. And now the 
seconds, who had been standing in close group with 
the heads of their horses together, separated at an easy 
canter, leaving a large, clear field between him and his 
adversary. Capt'ain D'Hubert looked at the pale sun, 
at the dismal fields, and the imbecility of the impending 
fight filled him with desolation. From a distant part of 
the field a stentorian voice shouted commands at proper 
intervals : An pas Au trot Charrrgez ! . . . Pre- 
sentiments of death don't come to a man for nothing, he 
thought at the very moment he put spurs to his horse. 

And therefore he was more than surprised when, at 
the very first set-to, Captain Feraud laid himself open 
to a cut over the forehead, which blinding him with 
blood, ended the combat almost before it had fairly 
begun. It was impossible to go on. Captain D'Hubert, 
leaving his enemy swearing horribly and reeling in the 
saddle between his two appalled friends, leaped the 
ditch again into the road and trotted home with his two 
seconds, who seemed rather awestruck at the speedy 
issue of that encounter. In the evening Captain 
D'Hubert finished the congratulatory letter on his 
sister's marriage. 



THE DUEL 209 

He finished it late. It was a long letter. Captain 
D'Hubert gave reins to his fancy. He told his sister 
that he would feel rather lonely after this great change 
in her life; but then the day would come for him, too, to 
get married. In fact, he was thinking already of the 
time when there would be no one left to fight with in 
Europe and the epoch of wars would be over. "I 
expect then," he wrote, "to be within measurable dis- 
tance of a marshal's baton, and you will be an ex- 
perienced married woman. You shall look out a wife for 
me. I will be, probably, bald by then, and a little 
blase. I shall require a young girl, pretty of course, and 
with a large fortune, which should help me to close my 
glorious career in the splendour befitting my exalted 
rank." He ended with the information that he had 
just given a lesson to a worrying, quarrelsome fellow 
who imagined he had a grievance against him. "But 
if you, in the depths of your province," he continued, 
"ever hear it said that your brother is of a quarrelsome 
disposition, don't you believe it on any account. There 
is no saying what gossip from the army may reach your 
innocent ears. Whatever you hear you may rest assured 
that your ever-loving brother is not a duellist." Then 
Captain D'Hubert crumpled up the blank sheet of paper 
headed with the words "This is my last will and testa- 
ment," and threw it in the fire with a great laugh at 
himself. He didn't care a snap for what that lunatic 
could do. He had suddenly acquired the conviction 
that his adversary was utterly powerless to affect his 
life in any sort of way; except, perhaps, in the way of 
putting a special excitement into the delightful, gay 
intervals between the campaigns. 

From this on there were, however, to be no peaceful 
intervals in the career of Captain D'Hubert. He saw 
the fields of Eylau and Friedland, marched and counter- 



210 THE DUEL 

inarched in the snow, in the mud, in the dust of Polish 
plains, picking up distinction and advancement on all 
the roads of North-eastern Europe. Meantime, Cap- 
tain Feraud, despatched southwards with his regiment, 
made unsatisfactory war in Spain. It was only when 
the preparations for the Russian campaign began that 
he was ordered north again. He left the country of 
mantillas and oranges without regret. 

The first signs of a not unbecoming baldness added 
to the lofty aspect of Colonel D'Hubert's forehead. 
This feature was no longer white and smooth as in the 
days of his youth; the kindly open glance of his blue 
eyes had grown a little hard as if from much peering 
through the smoke of battles. The ebony crop on 
Colonel Feraud's head, coarse and crinkly like a cap of 
horsehair, showed many silver threads about the 
temples. A detestable warfare of ambushes and in- 
glorious surprises had not improved his temper. The 
beak-like curve of his nose was unpleasantly set off by a 
deep fold on each side of his mouth. The round orbits 
of his eyes radiated wrinkles. More than ever he re- 
called an irritable and staring bird something like a 
cross between a parrot and an owl. He was still ex- 
tremely outspoken in his dislike of "intriguing fellows." 
He seized every opportunity to state that he did not 
pick up his rank in the ante-rooms of marshals. The 
unlucky persons, civil or military, who, with an in- 
tention of being pleasant, begged Colonel Feraud to tell 
them how he came by that very apparent scar on the 
forehead, were astonished to find themselves snubbed 
in various ways, some of which were simply rude and 
others mysteriously sardonic. Young officers were 
warned kindly by their more experienced comrades not 
to stare openly at the colonel's scar. But indeed an 
officer need have been very young in his profession not 



THE DUEL 211 

to have heard the legendary tale of that duel originating 
in a mysterious, unforgivable offence. 

Ill 

The retreat from Moscow submerged all private 
feelings in a sea of disaster and misery. Colonels 
without regiments, D'Hubert and Feraud carried the 
musket in the ranks of the so-called sacred battalion a 
battalion recruited from officers of all arms who had no 
longer any troops to lead. 

In that battalion promoted colonels did duty as 
sergeants; the generals captained the companies; a 
marshal of France, Prince of the Empire, commanded 
the whole. All had provided themselves with muskets 
picked up on the road, and with cartridges taken from 
the dead. In the general destruction of the bonds of 
discipline and duty holding together the companies, the 
battalions, the regiments, the brigades, and divisions of 
an armed host, this body of men put its pride in pre- 
serving some semblance of order and formation. The 
only stragglers were those who fell out to give up to the 
frost their exhausted souls. They plodded on, and 
their passage did not disturb the mortal silence of the 
plains, shining with the livid light of snows under a sky 
the colour of ashes. Whirlwinds ran along the fields, 
broke against the dark column, enveloped it in a tur- 
moil of flying icicles, and subsided, disclosing it creeping 
on its tragic way without the swing and rhythm of 
the military pace. It struggled onwards, the men ex- 
changing neither words nor looks; whole ranks marched 
touching elbow, day after day and never raising their 
eyes from the ground, as if lost in despairing reflections. 
In the dumb, black forests of pines the cracking of over- 
loaded branches was the only sound they heard. Often 



212 THE DUEL 

from daybreak to dusk no one spoke in the whole 
column. It was like a macabre march of struggling 
corpses towards a distant grave. Only an alarm of 
Cossacks could restore to their eyes a semblance of 
martial resolution. The battalion faced about and 
deployed, or formed square under the endless fluttering 
of snowflakes. A cloud of horsemen with fur caps on 
their heads, levelled long lances, and yelled "Hurrah! 
Hurrah!" around their menacing immobility whence, 
with muffled detonations, hundreds of dark red flames 
darted through the air thick with falling snow. In a 
very few moments the horsemen would disappear, as 
if carried off yelling in the gale, and the sacred battalion 
standing still, alone in the blizzard, heard only the 
howling of the w^ind, whose blasts searched their very 
hearts. Then, with a cry or two of " Vive VEmpcreurl** 
it would resume its march, leaving behind a few life- 
less bodies lying huddled up, tiny black specks on *the 
white immensity cf the snows. 

Though often marching in the ranks, or skirmishing 
in the woods side by side, the two officers ignored each 
other; this not so much from inimical intention as from 
a very real indifference. All their store of moral energy 
was expended in resisting the terrific enmity of nature 
and the crushing sense of irretrievable disaster. To the 
last they counted among the most active, the least 
demoralized of the battalion; their vigorous vitality 
invested them both with the appearance of an heroic 
pair in the eyes of their comrades. And they never 
exchanged more than a casual word or two, except one 
day, when skirmishing in front of the battalion against 
a worrying attack of cavalry, they found themselves cut 
off in the woods by a small party of Cossacks. A score 
of fur-capped* hairy horsemen rode to and fro, brandish- 
ing their lances in ominous silence; but the two officers 



THE DUEL 213 

had no mind to lay down their arms, and Colonel 
Feraud suddenly spoke up in a hoarse, growling voice, 
bringing his firelock to the shoulder. "You take the 
nearest brute, Colonel D'Hubert; I'll settle the next 
one. I am a better shot than you are." 

Colonel D'Hubert nodded over his levelled musket. 
Their shoulders were pressed against the trunk of a 
large tree; on their front enormous snowdrifts protected 
them from a direct charge. Two carefully aimed shots 
rang out in the frosty air, two Cossacks reeled in their 
saddles. The rest, not thinking the game good enough, 
closed round their wounded comrades and galloped 
away out of range. The two officers managed to rejoin 
their battalion halted for the night. During that after- 
noon they had leaned upon each other more than once, 
and towards the end, Colonel D'Hubert, whose long legs 
gave him an advantage in walking through soft snow, 
peremptorily took the musket of Colonel Feraud from 
him and carried it on his shoulder, using his own as a 
staff. 

On the outskirts of a village half buried in the snow 
an old wooden barn burned with a clear and an im- 
mense flame. The sacred battalion of skeletons, 
muffled in rags, crowded greedily the windward side, 
stretching hundreds of numbed, bony hands to the 
blaze. Nobody had noted their approach. Before 
entering the circle of light playing on the sunken, glassy- 
eyed, starved faces, Colonel D'Hubert spoke in his turn: 

"Here's your musket, Colonel Feraud. I can walk 
better than you." 

Colonel Feraud nodded, and pushed on towards the 
warmth of the fierce flames. Colonel D'Hubert was 
more deliberate, but not the less bent on getting a place 
in the front rank. Those they shouldered aside tried to 
greet with a faint cheer the reappearance of the two 



214 THE DUEL 

indomitable companions in activity and endurance. 
Those manly qualities had never perhaps received a 
higher tribute than this feeble acclamation. 

This is the faithful record of speeches exchanged 
during the retreat from Moscow by Colonels Feraud and 
D'Hubert. Colonel Feraud's taciturnity was the out- 
come of concentrated rage. Short, hairy, black faced, 
with layers of grime and the thick sprouting of a wiry 
beard, a frost-bitten hand wrapped up in filthy rags 
carried in a sling, he accused fate of unparalleled 
perfidy towards the sublime Man of Destiny. Colonel 
D'Hubert, his long moustaches pendent in icicles on 
each side of his cracked blue lips, his eyelids inflamed 
with the glare of snows, the principal part of his costume 
consisting of a sheepskin coat looted with difficulty 
from the frozen corpse of a camp follower found in an 
abandoned cart, took a more thoughtful view of events. 
His regularly handsome features, now reduced to m6re 
bony lines and fleshless hollows, looked out of a woman's 
black velvet hood, over which was rammed forcibly a 
cocked hat picked up under the wheels of an empty 
army fourgon, which must have contained at one time 
some general officer's luggage. The sheepskin coat 
being short for a man of his inches ended very high up, 
and the skin of his legs, blue with the cold, showed 
through the tatters of his nether garments. This 
under the circumstances provoked neither jeers nor 
pity. No one cared how the next man felt or looked. 
Colonel D'Hubert himself, hardened to exposure, suf- 
fered mainly in his self-respect from the lamentable in- 
decency of his costume. A thoughtless person may 
think that with a whole host of inanimate bodies be- 
strewing the path of retreat there could not have been 
much difficulty in supplying the deficiency. But to 
loot a pair of breeches from a frozen corpse is not so easy 



THE DUEL 215 

as it may appear to a mere theorist. It requires time 
and labour. You must remain behind while your 
companions march on. Colonel D 'Hubert had his 
scruples as to falling out. Once he had stepped aside 
he could not be sure of ever rejoining his battalion; and 
the ghastly intimacy of a wrestling match with the 
frozen dead opposing the unyielding rigidity of iron to 
your violence was repugnant to the delicacy of his 
feelings. Luckily, one day, grubbing in a mound of 
snow between the huts of a village in the hope of 
finding there a frozen potato or some vegetable garbage 
he could put between his long and shaky teeth, Colonel 
D'Hubert uncovered a couple of mats of the sort 
Russian peasants use to line the sides of their carts with. 
These, beaten free of frozen snow, bent about his 
elegant person and fastened solidly round his waist, 
made a bell-shaped nether garment, a sort of stiff petti- 
coat, which rendered Colonel D'Hubert a perfectly 
decent, but a much more noticeable figure than before. 
Thus accoutred, he continued to retreat, never doubt- 
ing of his personal escape, but full of other misgivings. 
The early buoyancy of his belief in the future was 
destroyed. If the road of glory led through such unfore- 
seen passages, he asked himself for he was reflective 
whether the guide was altogether trustworthy. It was 
a patriotic sadness, not unmingled with some personal 
concern, and quite unlike the unreasoning indignation 
against men and things nursed by Colonel Feraud. 
Recruiting his strength in a little German town for three 
weeks, Colonel D'Hubert was surprised to discover 
within himself a love of repose. His returning vigour 
was strangely pacific in its aspirations. He meditated 
silently upon this bizarre change of mood. No doubt 
many of his brother officers of field rank went through 
the same moral experience. But these were not the 



216 THE DUEL 

times to talk of it. In one of his letters home Colonel 
D'Hubert wrote, "All your plans, my dear Leonie, for 
marrying me to the charming girl you have discovered 
in your neighbourhood, seem farther off than ever. 
Peace is not yet. Europe wants another lesson. It 
will be a hard task for us, but it shall be done, because 
the Emperor is invincible." 

Thus wrote Colonel D 'Hubert from Pomerania to 
his married sister Leonie, settled in the south of France. 
And so far the sentiments expressed would not have 
been disowned by Colonel Feraud, who wrote no letters 
to anybody, whose father had been in life an illiterate 
blacksmith, who had no sister or brother, and whom no 
one desired ardently to pair off for a life of peace with a 
charming young girl. But Colonel D'Hubert's letter 
contained also some philosophical generalities upon the 
uncertainty of all personal hopes, when bound up 
entirely with the prestigious fortune of one incompar- 
ably great it is true, yet still remaining but a man in 
his greatness. This view would have appeared rank 
heresy to Colonel Feraud. Some melancholy fore- 
bodings of a military kind, expressed cautiously, would 
have been pronounced as nothing short of high treason 
by Colonel Feraud. But Leonie, the sister of Colonel 
D 'Hubert, read them with profound satisfaction, and, 
folding the letter thoughtfully, remarked to herself that 
"Armand was likely to prove eventually a sensible 
fellow." Since her marriage into a Southern family she 
had become a convinced believer in the return of the 
legitimate king. Hopeful and anxious she offered 
prayers night and morning, and burnt candles in 
churches for the safety and prosperity of her brother. 

She had every reason to suppose that her prayers 
were heard. Colonel D'Hubert passed through Lutzen, 
Bautzen, and Leipsic losing no limb, and acquiring 



THE DUEL 217 

additional reputation. Adapting his conduct to the 
needs of that desperate time, he had never voiced his 
misgivings. He concealed them under a cheerful 
courtesy of such pleasant character that people were 
inclined to ask themselves with wonder whether Colonel 
D'Hubert was aware of any disasters. Not only his 
manners, but even his glances remained untroubled. 
The steady amenity of his blue eyes disconcerted all 
grumblers, and made despair itself pause. 

This bearing was remarked favourably by the 
Emperor himself; for Colonel D'Hubert, attached now 
to the Major-General's staff, came on several occasions 
under the imperial eye. But it exasperated the higher 
strung nature of Colonel Feraud. Passing through 
Magdeburg on service, this last allowed himself, while 
seated gloomily at dinner with the Commandant de 
Place, to say of his life-long adversary: "This man does 
not love the Emperor," and his words were received by 
the other guests in profound silence. Colonel Feraud, 
troubled in his conscience at the atrocity of the asper- 
sion, felt the need to back it up by a good argument. 
"I ought to know him," he cried, adding some oaths. 
"One studies one's adversary. I have met him on the 
ground half a dozen times, as all the army knows. 
What more do you want? If that isn't opportunity 
enough for any fool to size up his man, may the devil 
take me if I can tell what is." And he looked around 
the table, obstinate and sombre. 

Later on in Paris, while extremely busy reorganizing 
his regiment, Colonel Feraud learned that Colonel 
D'Hubert had been made a general. He glared at his 
informant incredulously, then folded his arms and 
turned away muttering, "Nothing surprises me on the 
part of that man." 

And aloud he added, speaking over his shoulder > 



218 THE DUEL 

"You would oblige me greatly by telling General 
D'Hubert at the first opportunity that his advancement 
saves him for a time from a pretty hot encounter. I 
was only waiting for him to turn up here." 

The other officer remonstrated. 

"Could you think of it, Colonel Feraud, at this time, 
when every life should be consecrated to the glory and 
safety of France?" 

But the strain of unhappiness caused by military re- 
verses had spoiled Colonel Feraud's character. Like 
many other men, he was rendered wicked by misfortune. 

"I cannot consider General D'Hubert's existence of 
any account either for the glory or safety of France,'* 
he snapped viciously. " You don't pretend, perhaps, to 
know him better than I do I who have met him half a 
dozen times on the ground do you?" 

His interlocutor, a young man, was silenced. Colonel 
Feraud walked up and down the room. 

"This is not the time to mince matters," he said. "I 
can't believe that that man ever loved the Emperor. 
He picked up his general's stars under the boots of 
Marshal Berthier. Very well. I'll get mine in another 
fashion, and then we shall settle this business which has 
been dragging on too long." 

General D'Hubert, informed indirectly of Colonel 
Feraud's attitude, made a gesture as if to put aside an 
importunate person. His thoughts were solicited by 
graver cares. He had had no time to go and see his 
family. His sister, whose royalist hopes were rising 
higher every day, though proud of her brother, re- 
gretted his recent advancement in a measure, because it 
put on him a prominent mark of the usurper's favour, 
which later on could have an adverse influence upon his 
career. He wrote to her that no one but an inveterate 
enemy could say he had got his promotion by favour. 



THE DUEL 219 

As to his career, he assured her that he looked no farther 
forward into the future than the next battlefield. 

Beginning the campaign of France in this dogged 
spirit, General D 'Hubert was wounded on the second 
day of the battle under Laon. While being carried off 
the field he heard that Colonel Feraud, promoted this 
moment to general, had been sent to replace him at the 
liead of his brigade. He cursed his luck impulsively, 
not being able at the first glance to discern all the ad- 
vantages of a nasty wound. And yet it was by this 
heroic method that Providence was shaping his future. 
Travelling slowly south to his sister's country home 
under the care of a trusty old servant, General D'Hu- 
bert was spared the humiliating contacts and the per- 
plexities of conduct which assailed the men of Napole- 
onic empire at the moment of its downfall. Lying in 
his bed, with the windows of his room open wide to the 
sunshine of Provence, he perceived the undisguised 
aspect of the blessing conveyed by that jagged frag- 
ment of a Prussian shell, which, killing his horse and 
ripping open his thigh, saved him from an active con- 
flict with his conscience. After the last fourteen years 
spent sword in hand in the saddle, and with the sense of 
his duty done to the very end, General D'Hubert found 
resignation an easy virtue. His sister was delighted 
with his reasonableness. "I leave myself altogether in 
your hands, my dear Leonie," he had said to her. 

He was still laid up when, the credit of his brother- 
in-law's family being exerted on his behalf, he received 
from the royal government not only the confirmation of 
his rank, but the assurance of being retained on the 
active list. To this was added an unlimited conva- 
lescent leave. The unfavourable opinion entertained 
of him in Bonapartist circles, though it rested on noth- 
ing more solid than the unsupported pronouncement of 



220 THE DUEL 

General Feraud, was directly responsible for General 
D'Hubert's retention on the active list. As to General 
Feraud, Ms rank was confirmed, too. It was more than 
he dared to expect; but Marshal Soult, then Minister 
of War to the restored king, was partial to officers who 
had served in Spain. Only not even the marshal's 
protection could secure for him active employment. 
He remained irreconcilable, idle, and sinister. He 
sought in obscure restaurants the company of other 
half-pay officers who cherished dingy but glorious old 
tricolour cockades in their breast-pockets, and buttoned 
with the forbidden eagle buttons their shabby uniforms, 
declaring themselves too poor to afford the expense of 
the prescribed change. 

The triumphant return from Elba, an historical fact 
as marvellous and incredible as the exploits of some 
mythological demi-god, found General D'Hubert still 
quite unable to sit a horse. Neither could he walk 
very well. These disabilities, which Madame Leonie 
accounted most lucky, helped to keep her brother out of 
all possible mischief. His frame of mind at that time, 
she noted with dismay, became very far from reason- 
able. This general officer, still menaced by the loss of 
a limb, was discovered one night in the stables of the 
chateau by a groom, who, seeing a light, raised an 
alarm of thieves. His crutch was lying half -buried in 
the straw of the litter, and the general was hopping on 
one leg in a loose box around a snorting horse he was 
trying to saddle. Such were the effects of imperial 
magic upon a calm temperament and a pondered mind. 
Beset in the light of stable lanterns, by the tears, en- 
treaties, indignation, remonstrances and reproaches 
of his family, he got out of the difficult situation by 
fainting away there and then in the arms of his nearest 
relatives, and was carried off to bed. Before he got 



THE DUEL 221 

out of it again, the second reign of Napoleon, the 
Hundred Days of feverish agitation and supreme 
effort, passed away like a terrifying dream. The 
tragic year 1815, begun in the trouble and unrest of 
consciences, was ending in vengeful proscriptions. 

How General Feraud escaped the clutches of the 
Special Commission and the last offices of a firing squad 
he never knew himself. It was partly due to the 
subordinate position he was assigned during the Hun- 
dred Days. The Emperor had never given him active 
command, but had kept him busy at the cavalry 
depot in Paris, mounting and despatching hastily 
drilled troopers into the field. Considering this task 
as unworthy of his abilities, he had discharged it with 
no offensively noticeable zeal; but for the greater part 
he was saved from the excesses of Royalist reaction by 
the interference of General D'Hubert. 

This last, still on convalescent leave, but able now to 
travel, had been despatched by his sister to Paris to 
present himself to his legitimate sovereign. As no one 
in the capital could possibly know anything of the 
episode in the stable he was received there with distinc- 
tion. Military to the very bottom of his soul, the pros- 
pect of rising in his profession consoled him from 
finding himself the butt of Bonapartist malevolence, 
which pursued him with a persistence he could not 
account for. All the rancour of that embittered and 
persecuted party pointed to him as the man who had 
never loved the Emperor a sort of monster essentially 
worse than a mere betrayer. 

General D 'Hubert shrugged his shoulders without 
anger at this ferocious prejudice. Rejected by his old 
friends, and mistrusting profoundly the advances of 
Royalist society, the young and handsome general (he 
was barely forty) adopted a manner of cold, punctilious 



222 THE DUEL 

courtesy, which at the merest shadow of an intended 
slight passed easily into harsh haughtiness. Thus pre- 
pared, General D'Hubert went about his affairs in Paris 
feeling inwardly very happy with the peculiar up- 
lifting happiness of a man very much in love. The 
charming girl looked out by his sister had come upon 
the scene, and had conquered him in the thorough 
manner in which a young girl by merely existing in his 
sight can make a man of forty her own. They were go- 
ing to be married as soon as General D'Hubert had 
obtained his official nomination to a promised com- 
mand. 

One afternoon, sitting on the terrasse of the CafS 
Tortoni, General D'Hubert learned from the con- 
versation of two strangers occupying a table near his 
own, that General Feraud, included in the batch of 
superior officers arrested after the second return of the 
king, was in danger of passing before the Special Com- 
mission. Living all his spare moments, as is frequently 
the case with expectant lovers, a day in advance of 
reality, and in a state of bestarred hallucination, it 
required nothing less than the name of his perpetual 
antagonist pronounced in a loud voice to call the 
youngest of Napoleon's generals away from the 
mental contemplation of his betrothed. He looked 
round. The strangers wore civilian clothes. Lean and 
weather-beaten, lolling back in their chairs, they 
scowled at people with moody and defiant abstraction 
from under their hats pulled low over their eyes. It 
was not difficult to recognize them for two of the 
compulsorily retired officers of the Old Guard. As 
from bravado or carelessness they chose to speak in loud 
tones, General D'Hubert, who saw no reason why he 
should change his seat, heard every word. They did 
not seem to be the personal friends of General Feraud. 



THE DUEL 223 

His name came up amongst others. Hearing it 
repeated, General D 'Hubert's tender anticipations of a 
domestic future adorned with a woman's grace were 
traversed by the harsh regret of his warlike past, of 
that one long, intoxicating clash of arms, unique in the 
magnitude of its glory and disaster the marvellous 
work and the special possession of his own generation. 
He felt an irrational tenderness towards his old adver- 
sary and appreciated emotionally the murderous ab- 
surdity their encounter had introduced into his life. It 
was like an additional pinch of spice in a hot dish. He 
remembered the flavour with sudden melancholy. He 
would never taste it again. It was all over. "I fancy it 
was being left lying in the garden that had exasperated 
him so against me from the first," he thought, indul- 
gently. 

The two strangers at the next table had fallen silent 
after the third mention of General Feraud's name. Pres- 
ently the elder of the two, speaking again in a bitter 
tone, affirmed that General Feraud's account was set- 
tled. And why? Simply because he was not like some 
bigwigs who loved only themselves. The Royalists 
knew they could never make anything of him. He 
loved The Other too well. 

The Other was the Man of St. Helena. The two 
officers nodded and touched glasses before they drank 
to an impossible return. Then the same who had 
spoken before, remarked with a sardonic laugh, "His 
adversary showed more cleverness." 

"What adversary?" asked the younger, as if puzzled. 

"Don't you know? They were two hussars. At 
each promotion they fought a duel. Haven't you heard 
of the duel going on ever since 1801?" 

The other had heard of the duel, of course. Now he 
understood the allusion. General Baron D'Hubert 



224 THE DUEL 

would be able now to enjoy his fat king's favour in 
peace. 

"Much good may it do to him," mumbled the elder. 
"They were both brave men. I never saw this D'Hu- 
bert a sort of intriguing dandy, I am told. But I can 
well believe what I've heard Feraud say of him that 
he never loved the Emperor." 

They rose and went away. 

General D 'Hubert experienced the horror of a som- 
nambulist who wakes up from a complacent dream of 
activity to find himself walking on a quagmire. A 
profound disgust of the ground on which he was making 
his way overcame him. Even the image of the charm- 
ing girl was swept from his view in the flood of moral 
distress. Everything he had ever been or hoped to be 
would taste of bitter ignominy unless he could manage 
to save General Fepaud from the fate which threatened 
so many braves. Under the impulse of this almost 
morbid need to attend to the safety of his adversary, 
General D 'Hubert worked so well with hands and feet 
(as the French saying is), that in less than twenty-four 
hours he found means of obtaining an extraordinary 
private audience from the Minister of Police. 

General Baron DTIubert was shown in suddenly 
without preliminaries. In the dusk of the Minister's 
cabinet, behind the forms of writing-desk, chairs, and 
tables, between two bunches of wax candles blazing in 
sconces, he beheld a figure in a gorgeous coat posturing 
before a tall mirror. The old conventionnel Fouche, 
Senator of the Empire, traitor to every man, to every 
principle and motive of human conduct, Duke of Otran- 
to, and the wily artizan of the second Restoration, was 
trying the fit of a court suit in which his young and 
accomplished fiancee had declared her intention to have 
his portrait painted on porcelain. It was a caprice, a 



THE DUEL 225 

charming fancy which the first Minister of Police of the 
second Restoration was anxious to gratify. For that 
man, often compared in wiliness of conduct to a fox, 
but whose ethical side could be worthily symbolized 
by nothing less emphatic than a skunk, was as much 
possessed by his love as General D 'Hubert himself. 

Startled to be discovered thus by the blunder of a 
servant, he met this little vexation with the characteris- 
tic impudence which had served his turn so well in the 
endless intrigues of his self-seeking career. Without 
altering his attitude a hair's-breadth, one leg in a silk 
stocking advanced, his head twisted over his left 
shoulder, he called cut calmly, "This way, General. 
Pray approach. Well? I am all attention." 

While General D'Hubert, ill at ease as if one of his 
own little weaknesses had been exposed, presented his 
request as shortly as possible, the Duke of Otranto went 
on feeling the fit of his collar, settling the lapels before 
the glass, and buckling his back in an effort to behold 
the set of the gold embroidered coat-skirts behind. His 
still face, his attentive eyes, could not have expressed a 
more complete interest in those matters if he had been 
alone. 

"Exclude from the operations of the Special Court 
a certain Feraud, Gabriel Florian, General of brigade 
of the promotion of 1814?" he repeated, in a slightly 
wondering tone, and then turned away from the glass. 
"Why exclude him precisely?" 

"I am surprised that your Excellency, so competent 
in the evaluation of men of his time, should have 
thought worth while to have that name put down on 
the list." 

"A rabid Bonapartist!" 

"So is every grenadier and every trooper of the army, 
as your Excellency well knows. And the individuality 



226 THE DUEL 

of General Feraud can have no more weight than that 
of any casual grenadier. He is a man of no mental 
grasp, of no capacity whatever. It is inconceivable 
that he should ever have any influence." 

"He has a well-hung tongue, though," interjected 
Fouche. 

"Noisy, I admit, but not dangerous." 

"I will not dispute with you. I know next to noth- 
ing of him. Hardly his name, in fact." 

"And yet your Excellency has the presidency of the 
Commission charged by the king to point out those who 
were to be tried," said General D'Hubert, with an 
emphasis which did not miss the minister's ear. 

"Yes, General," he said, walking away into the dark 
part of the vast room, and throwing himself into a deep 
armchair that swallowed him up, all but the soft gleam 
of gold embroideries and the pallid patch of the face 
"yes, General. Take this chair there." 
. General D'Hubert sat down. 

"Yes, General," continued the arch-master in the 
arts of intrigue and betrayals, whose duplicity, as if at 
times intolerable to his self-knowledge, found relief in 
bursts of cynical openness. "I did hurry on the forma- 
tion of the proscribing Commission, and I took its presi- 
dency. And do you know why? Simply from fear 
that if I did not take it quickly into my hands my own 
name would head the list of the proscribed. Such are 
the times in which we live. But I am minister of the 
king yet, and I ask you plainly why I should take the 
name of this obscure Feraud off the list? You wonder 
how his name got there! Is it possible that you should 
know men so little? My dear General, at the very 
first sitting of the Commission names poured on us like 
rain off the roof of the Tuileries. Names! We had our 
choice of thousands. How do you know that the name 



THE DUEL 227 

of this Feraud, whose life or death don't matter to 
France, does not keep out some other name?" 

The voice out of the armchair stopped. Opposite 
General D'Hubert sat still, shadowy and silent. Only 
his sabre clinked slightly. The voice in the armchair 
began again. " And we must try to satisfy the exigencies 
of the Allied Sovereigns, too. The Prince de Talleyrand 
told me only yesterday that Nesselrode had informed 
him officially of His Majesty the Emperor Alexander's 
dissatisfaction at the small number of examples the 
Government of the king intends to make especially 
amongst military men. I tell you this confidentially." 

"Upon my word!" broke out General D'Hubert, 
speaking through his teeth, "if your Excellency deigns 
to favour me with any more confidential information 7 
don't know what I will do. It's enough to break one's 
sword over one's knee, and fling the pieces. . . ." 

"What government you imagined yourself to be 
serving?" interrupted the minister, sharply. 

After a short pause the crestfallen voice of General 
D'Hubert answered, "The Government of France." 

"That's paying your conscience off with mere words, 
General. The truth is that you are serving a govern- 
ment of returned exiles, of men who have been without 
country for twenty years. Of men also who have just 
got over a very bad and humiliating fright. . . . 
Have no illusions on that score." 

The Duke of Otranto ceased. He had relieved him- 
self, and had attained his object of stripping some self- 
respect off that man who had inconveniently discovered 
him posturing in a gold-embroidered court costume 
before a mirror. But they were a hot-headed lot in the 
army; it occurred to him that it would be inconvenient 
if a well-disposed general officer, received in audience 
on the recommendation of one of the Princes, were to 



228 THE DUEL 

do something rashly scandalous directly after a pri- 
vate interview with the minister. In a changed tone 
he put a question to the point: "Your relation this 
Feraud?" 

"No. No relation at all." 

"Intimate friend?" 

"Intimate . . . yes. There is between us an 
intimate connection of a nature which makes it a point 
of honour with me to try . . ." 

The minister rang a bell without waiting for the end 
of the phrase. When the servant had gone out, after 
bringing in a pair of heavy silver candelabra for the 
writing-desk, the Duke of Otranto rose, his breast glis- 
tening all over with gold in the strong light, and taking a 
piece of paper out of a drawer, held it in his hand osten- 
tatiously while he said with persuasive gentleness: 
"You must not speak of breaking your sword across 
your knee, General. Perhaps you would never get' 
another. The Emperor will not return this time. . . . 
Diable d'homme I There was just a moment, here in 
Paris, soon after Waterloo, when he frightened me. 
It looked as though he were ready to begin all over 
again. Luckily one never docs begin all over again, 
really. You must not think of breaking your sword, 
General." 

General DTIubert, looking on the ground, moved 
slightly his hand in a hopeless gesture of renunciation. 
The Minister of Police turned his eyes away from him, 
and scanned deliberately the paper he had been holding 
up all the time. 

"There are only twenty general officers selected to 
be made an example of. Twenty. A round number. 
And let's see, Feraud. . . . Ah, he's there. Ga- 
briel Florian. Parfaitement. That's your man. Well, 
there will be only nineteen examples made now." 



THE DUEL 229 

General D 'Hubert stood up feeling as though he had 
gone through an infectious illness. "I must beg your 
Excellency to keep my interference a profound secret. 
I attach the greatest importance to his never learn- 
ing . . ." 

"Who is going to inform him, I should like to know?" 
said Fouche, raising his eyes curiously to General 
D'Hubert's tense, set face. "Take one of these pens, 
and run it through the name yourself. This is the 
only list in existence. If you are careful to take up 
enough ink no one will be able to tell what was the 
name struck out. But, par exemple, I am not responsi- 
ble for what Clarke will do with him afterwards. If he 
persists in being rabid he will be ordered by the Minister 
of War to reside in some provincial town under the 
supervision of the police." 

A few days later General D'Hubert was saying to his 
sister, after the first greetings had been got over: "Ah, 
my dear Leonie! it seemed to me I couldn't get away 
from Paris quick enough." 

"Effect of love," she suggested, with a malicious 
smile. 

"And horror," added General D'Hubert, with pro- 
found seriousness. " I have nearly died there of ... 
of nausea." 

His face was contracted with disgust. And as his 
sister looked at him attentively he continued, "I have 
had to see Fouche. I have had an audience. I have 
been in his cabinet. There remains with one, who had 
the misfortune to breathe the air of the same room with 
that man, a sense of diminished dignity, an uneasy feel- 
ing of being not so clean, after all, as one hoped one 
was. . . . But you can't understand." 

She nodded quickly several times. She understood 
very well, on the contrary. She knew her brother 



230 THE DUEL 

thoroughly, and liked him as he was. Moreover, the 
scorn and loathing of mankind were the lot of the 
Jacobin Fouche, who, exploiting for his own advantage 
every weakness, every virtue, every generous illusion of 
mankind, made dupes of his whole generation, and died 
obscurely as Duke of Otranto. 

" My dear Armand," she said, compassionately, " what 
could you want from that man?" 

"Nothing less than a life," answered General 
D'Hubert. " And I've got it. It had to be done. But 
I feel yet as if I could never forgive the necessity to the 
man I had to save." 

General Feraud, totally unable (as is the case with 
most of us) to comprehend what was happening to him, 
received the Minister of War's order to proceed at once 
to a small town of Central France with feelings whose 
natural expression 'con sis ted in a fierce rolling of the eye 
and savage grinding of the teeth. The passing away of 
the state of war, the only condition of society he had 
ever known, the horrible view of a world at peace, 
frightened him. He went away to his little town firmly 
convinced that this could not last. There he was in- 
formed of his retirement from the army, and that his 
pension (calculated on the scale of a colonel's rank) was 
made dependent on the correctness of his conduct, and 
on the good reports of the police. No longer in the 
army! He felt suddenly strange to the earth, like a 
disembodied spirit. It was impossible to exist. But 
at first he reacted from sheer incredulity. This could 
not be. He waited for thunder, earthquakes, natural 
cataclysms; but nothing happened. The leaden weight 
of an irremediable idleness descended upon General 
Feraud, who having no resources within himself sank 
into a state of awe-inspiring hebetude. He haunted the 
streets of the little town, gazing before him with lack- 



THE DUEL 231 

lustre eyes, disregarding the hats raised on his passage; 
and people, nudging each other as he went by, whispered, 
"That's poor General Feraud. His heart is broken. 
Behold how he loved the Emperor." 

The other living wreckage of Napoleonic tempest 
clustered round General Feraud with infinite respect. 
He, himself, imagined his soul to be crushed by grief. 
He suffered from quickly succeeding impulses to weep, 
to howl, to bite his fists till blood came, to spend days on 
his bed with his head thrust under the pillow; but these 
arose from sheer ennui, from the anguish of an immense, 
indescribable, inconceivable boredom. His mental in- 
ability to grasp the hopeless nature of his case as a 
whole saved him from suicide. He never even thought 
of it once. He thought of nothing. But his appetite 
abandoned him, and the difficulty he experienced to 
express the overwhelming nature of his feelings (the 
most furious swearing could do no justice to it) induced 
gradually a habit of silence a sort of death to a 
southern temperament. 

Great, therefore, was the sensation amongst the an- 
ciens militaires frequenting a certain little cafe full of flies 
when one stuffy afternoon "that poor General Feraud'* 
let out suddenly a volley of formidable curses. 

He had been sitting quietly in his own privileged 
corner looking through the Paris gazettes with just as 
much interest as a condemned man on the eve of exe- 
cution could be expected to show in the news of the day. 
A cluster of martial, bronzed faces, amongst which there 
was one lacking an eye, and another the tip of a nose, 
frost-bitten in Russia, surrounded him anxiously. 

"What's the matter, General?" 

General Feraud sat erect, holding the folded news- 
paper at arm's length in order to make out the small 
print better. He read to himself, over again, fragments 



232 THE DUEL 

of the intelligence which had caused, what may be called 
his resurrection. 

"We are informed that General d* Hubert, till now on 
sick leave in the south, is to be called to the command of the 
5th Cavalry brigade in . . ." 

He dropped the paper stonily. . . . "Called to 
the command" . . . and suddenly gave his fore- 
head a mighty slap. "I had almost forgotten him," 
he muttered, in a conscience-stricken tone. 

A deep-chested veteran shouted across the cafe: 
"Some new villainy of the Government, General?" 

"The villainies of these scoundrels," thundered 
General Feraud, "are innumerable. One more, one 
less!" . . . He lowered his tone. "But I will set 
good order to one of them at least." 

He looked all round the faces. "There's a pomaded, 
curled staff officer, the darling of some of the marshals 
who sold their father for a handful of English gold. He 
will find out presently that I am alive yet," he declared, 
in a dogmatic tone. "However, this is a private affair. 
An old affair of honour. Bah! Our honour does not 
matter. Here we are driven off with a split ear like a 
lot of cast troop horses good only for a knacker's 
yard. But it would be like striking a blow for the 
Emperor. . . . Messieurs, I shall require the assis- 
tance of two of you." 

Every man moved forward. General Feraud, deeply 
touched by this demonstration, called with visible 
emotion upon the one-eyed veteran cuirassier and the 
officer of the Chasseurs a Cheval who had left the tip of 
his nose in Russia. He excused his choice to the others. 

"A cavalry affair this you know." 

He was answered with a varied chorus of "Parfaite- 
rnent, mon General. . . . C'est juste. . . . Par- 
bleu 9 c'est connu. . . ." Everybody was satisfied. 



THE DUEL 233 

The three left the cafe together, followed by cries of 

"Bonne chance." 

Outside they linked arms, the general in the middle. 
The three rusty cocked hats worn en bataille with a 
sinister forward slant barred the narrow street nearly 
right across. The overheated little town of grey stones 
and red tiles was drowsing away its provincial afternoon 
under a blue sky. The loud blows of a cooper hooping 
a cask reverberated regularly between the houses. The 
general dragged his left foot a little in the shade of the 
walls. 

"This damned winter of 1813 has got into my bones 
for good. Never mind. We must take pistols, that's 
all. A little lumbago. We must have pistols. He's 
game for my bag. My eyes are as keen as ever. You 
should have seen me in Russia picking off the dodging 
Cossacks with a beastly old infantry musket. I have a 
natural gift for firearms." 

In this strain General Feraud ran on, holding up his 
head, with owlish eyes and rapacious beak. A mere 
fighter all his life, a cavalry man, a sabreur, he conceived 
war with the utmost simplicity, as, in the main, a massed 
lot of personal contests, a sort of gregarious duelling. 
And here he had in hand a war of his own. He revived. 
The shadow of peace passed away from him like the 
shadow of death. It was the marvellous resurrection of 
the named Feraud, Gabriel Florian, engage volontaire 
of 1793, General of 1814, buried without ceremony by 
means of a service order signed by the War Minister 
of the Second Restoration. 

IV 

No man succeeds in everything he undertakes. In 
that sense we are all failures. The great point is not 



234 THE DUEL 

to fail in ordering and sustaining the effort of our life. 
In this matter vanity is what leads us astray. It hurries 
us into situations from which we must come out dam- 
aged; whereas pride is our safeguard, by the reserve it 
imposes on the choice of our endeavour as much as by 
the virtue of its sustaining power. 

General D'Hubert was proud and reserved. He had 
not been damaged by his casual love affairs, successful 
or otherwise. In his war-scarred body his heart at forty 
remained unscratched. Entering with reserve into his 
sister's matrimonial plans, he had felt himself falling 
irremediably in love as one falls off a roof. He was too 
proud to be frightened. Indeed, the sensation was too 
delightful to be alarming. 

The inexperience of a man of forty is a much more 
serious thing than the inexperience of a youth of twenty, 
for it is not helped out by the rashness of hot blood. 
The girl was mysterious, as young girls are by the 
mere effect of their guarded ingenuity; and to him the 
mysteriousness of that young girl appeared exceptional 
and fascinating. But there was nothing mysterious 
about the arrangements of the match which Madame 
Leonie had promoted. There was nothing peculiar, 
either. It was a very appropriate match, commending 
itself extremely to the young lady's mother (the father 
was dead) and tolerable to the young lady's uncle an 
old emigre lately returned from Germany, and pervad- 
ing, cane in hand, a lean ghost of the ancien regime, the 
garden walks of the young lady's ancestral home. 

General D'Hubert was not the man to be satisfied 
merely with the woman and the fortune when it came 
to the point. His pride (and pride aims always at true 
success) would be satisfied with nothing short of love. 
But as true pride excludes vanity, he could not imagine 
any reason why this mysterious creature with deep and 



THE DUEL 23d 

brilliant eyes of a violet colour should have any feeling 
for him warmer than indifference. The young lady (her 
name was Adele) baffled every attempt at a clear under- 
standing on that point. It is true that the attempts 
were clumsy and made timidly, because by then General 
D 'Hubert had become acutely aware of the number of 
his years, of his wounds, of his many moral imperfec- 
tions, of his secret un worthiness and had incidentally 
learned by experience the meaning of the word funk. 
As far as he could make out she seemed to imply that, 
with an unbounded confidence in her mother's affection 
and sagacity, she felt no unsurmountable dislike for the 
person of General D 'Hubert; and that this was quite 
sufficient for a well-brought-up young lady to begin 
married life upon. This view hurt and tormented the 
pride of General D'Hubert. And yet he asked himself, 
with a sort of sweet despair, what more could he expect? 
She had a quiet and luminous forehead. Her violet eyes 
laughed while the lines of her lips and chin remained 
composed in admirable gravity. All this was set off by 
such a glorious mass of fair hair, by a complexion so 
marvellous, by such a grace of expression, that General 
D'Hubert really never found the opportunity to examine 
with sufficient detachment the lofty exigencies of his 
pride. In fact, he became shy of that line of inquiry 
since it had led once or twice to a crisis of solitary pas- 
sion in which it was borne upon him that he loved her 
enough to kill her rather than lose her. From such 
passages, not unknown to men of forty, he would come 
out broken, exhausted, remorseful, a little dismayed. 
He derived, however, considerable comfort from the 
quietist practice of sitting now and then half the night 
by an open window and meditating upon the wonder 
of her existence, like a believer lost in the mystic con- 
templation of his faith. 



*36 THE DUEL 

It must not be supposed that all these variations of 
his inward state were made manifest to the world. 
General D'Hubert found no difficulty in appearing 
wreathed in smiles. Because, in fact, he was very 
happy. He followed the established rules of his condi- 
tion, sending over flowers (from his sister's garden and 
hot-houses) early every morning, and a little later fol- 
lowing himself to lunch with his intended, her mother, 
and her emigre uncle. The middle of the day was spent 
in strolling or sitting in the shade. A watchful defer- 
ence, trembling on the verge of tenderness was the note 
of their intercourse on his side with a playful turn of 
the phrase concealing the profound trouble of his whole 
being caused by her inaccessible nearness. Late in the 
afternoon General D'Hubert walked home between the 
fields of vines, sometimes intensely miserable, some- 
times supremely happy, sometimes pensively sad; but 
always feeling a special intensity of existence, that el&- 
tion common to artists, poets, and lovers to men 
haunted by a great passion, a noble thought, or a new 
vision of plastic beauty. 

The outward world at that time did not exist with 
any special distinctness for General D'Hubert. One 
evening, however, crossing a ridge from which he could 
see both houses, General D'Hubert became aware of two 
figures far down the road. The day had been divine. 
The festal decoration of the inflamed sky lent a gentle 
glow to the sober tints of the southern land. The grey 
rocks, the brown fields, the purple, undulating distances 
harmonized in luminous accord, exhaled already the 
scents of the evening. The two figures down the road 
presented themselves like two rigid and wooden sil- 
houettes all black on the ribbon of white dust. General 
D'Hubert made out the long, straight, military capotes 
buttoned closely right up to the black stocks, the cocked 



THE DUEL 237 

hats, the lean, carven, brown countenances old soldiers 
vieilles moustaches I The taller of the two had a 
black patch over one eye; the other's hard, dry coun- 
tenance presented some bizarre, disquieting peculiarity, 
which on nearer approach proved to be the absence of 
the tip of the nose. Lifting their hands with one move- 
ment to salute the slightly lame civilian walking with a 
thick stick, they inquired for the house where the Gen- 
eral Baron D'Hubert lived, and what was the best way 
to get speech with him quietly. 

"If you think this quiet enough," said General 
D'Hubert, looking round at the vine-fields, framed in 
purple lines, and dominated by the nest of grey and 
drab walls of a village clustering around the top of a 
conical hill, so that the blunt church tower seemed but 
the shape of a crowning rock "if you think this spot 
quiet enough, you can speak to him at once. And I 
beg you, comrades, to speak openly, with perfect con- 
fidence." 

They stepped back at this, and raised again their 
hands to their hats with marked ceremoniousness. 
Then the one with the chipped nose, speaking for both, 
remarked that the matter was confidential enough, and 
to be arranged discreetly. Their general quarters were 
established in that village over there, where the infernal 
clodhoppers damn their false, Royalist hearts ! looked 
remarkably cross-eyed at three unassuming military 
men. For the present he should only ask for the name 
of General D'Hubert's friends. 

"What friends?" said the astonished General D'Hu- 
bert, completely off the track. "I am staying with my 
brother-in-law over there." 

"Well, he will do for one," said the chipped veteran,, 

"We're the friends of General Feraud," interjected 
the other, who had kept silent till then, only glowering 



238 THE DUEL 

with his one eye at the man who had never loved the 
Emperor. That was something to look at. For even 
the gold-laced Judases who had sold him to the English, 
the marshals and princes, had loved him at some time or 
other. But this man had never loved the Emperor. 
General Feraud had said so distinctly. 

General D'Hubert felt an inward blow in his chest. 
For an infinitesimal fraction of a second it was as if 
the spinning of the earth had become perceptible with 
an awful, slight rustle in the eternal stillness of space. 
But this noise of blood in his ears passed off at once. 
Involuntarily he murmured, " Feraud ! I had forgotten 
his existence." 

"He's existing at present, very uncomfortably, it is 
true, in the infamous inn of that nest of savages up 
there," said the one-eyed cuirassier, drily. "We arrived 
in your parts an hour ago on post horses. He's awaiting 
our return with impatience. There is hurry, you know. 
The General has broken the ministerial order to obtain 
from you the satisfaction he's entitled to by the laws of 
honour, and naturally he's anxious to have it all over 
before the gendarmerie gets on his scent." 

The other elucidated the idea a little further. " Get 
back on the quiet you understand? Phitt! No one 
the wiser. We have broken out, too. Your friend the 
king would be glad to cut off our scurvy pittances at the 
first chance. It's a risk. But honour before every- 
thing." 

General D'Hubert had recovered his powers of 
speech. "So you come here like this along the road 
to invite me to a throat-cutting match with that 
that ..." A laughing sort of rage took possession 
of him. "Ha! ha! ha! ha!" 

His fists on his hips, he roared without restraint, while 
they stood before him lank and straight, as though they 



THE DUEL 239 

had been shot up with a snap through a trap door in the 
ground. Only four-and- twenty months ago the mas- 
ters of Europe, they had already the air of antique 
ghosts, they seemed less substantial in their faded coats 
than their own narrow shadows falling so black across 
the white road: the military and grotesque shadows of 
twenty years of war and conquests. They had an out- 
landish appearance of two imperturbable bonzes of the 
religion of the sword. And General D'Hubert, also one 
of the ex-masters of Europe, laughed at these serious 
phantoms standing in his way. 

Said one, indicating the laughing General with a jerk 
of the head: "A merry companion, that." 

"There are some of us that haven't smiled from the 
day The Other went away," remarked his comrade* 

A violent impulse to set upon and beat those unsub* 
stantial wraiths to the ground frightened General 
D'Hubert. He ceased laughing suddenly. His desire 
now was to get rid of them, to get them away from his 
sight quickly before he lost control of himself. He 
wondered at the fury he felt rising in his breast. But 
he had no time to look into that peculiarity just then. 

"I understand your wish to be done with me as 
quickly as possible. Don't let us waste time in empty 
ceremonies. Do you see that wood there at the foot of 
that slope? Yes, the wood of pines. Let us meet there 
to-morrow at sunrise. I will bring with me my sword 
or my pistols, or both if you like." 

The seconds of General Feraud looked at each other. 

"Pistols, General," said the cuirassier. 

"So be it. Au revoir to-morrow morning. Till 
then let me advise you to keep close if you don't want 
the gendarmerie making inquiries about you before it 
gets dark. Strangers are rare in this part of the coun- 
try." 



240 THE DUEL 

They saluted in silence. General D'Hubert, turning 
his back on their retreating forms, stood still in the 
middle of the road for a long time, biting his lower lip 
and looking on the ground. Then he began to walk 
straight before him, thus retracing his steps till he found 
himself before the park gate of his intended's house. 
Dusk had fallen. Motionless he stared through the 
bars at the front of the house, gleaming clear beyond the 
thickets and trees. Footsteps scrunched on the gravel, 
and presently a tall stooping shape emerged from the 
lateral alley following the inner side of the park wall. 

Le Chevalier de Valmassigue, uncle of the adorable 
Adele, ex-brigadier in the army of the Princes, book- 
binder in Altona, afterwards shoemaker (with a great 
reputation for elegance in the fit of ladies' shoes) in 
another small German town, wore silk stockings on his 
lean shanks, low shoes with silver buckles, a brocaded 
waistcoat. A long-skirted coat, a la franqaise, covered 
loosely his thin, bowed back. A small three-cornered 
hat rested on a lot of powdered hair, tied in a queue. 

"Monsieur le Chevalier," called General D'Hubert, 
softly. 

"What? You here again, mon ami? Have you 
forgotten something?" 

"By heavens ! that's just it. I have forgotten some- 
thing. I am come to tell you of it. No outside. 
Behind this wall. It's too ghastly a thing to be let in 
at all where she lives." 

The Chevalier came out at once with that benevolent 
resignation some old people display towards the fugue 
of youth. Older by a quarter of a century than General 
D'Hubert, he looked upon him in the secret of his heart 
as a rather troublesome youngster in love. He had 
heard his enigmatical words very well, but attached no 
undue importance to what a mere man of forty so hard 



THE DUEL 241 

hit was likely to do or say. The turn of mind of the 
generation of Frenchmen grown up during the years of 
his exile was almost unintelligible to him. Their senti- 
ments appeared to him unduly violent, lacking fineness 
and measure, their language needlessly exaggerated. 
He joined calmly the General on the road, and they 
made a few steps in silence, the General trying to master 
his agitation, and get proper control of his voice. 

"It is perfectly true; I forgot something. I forgot 
till half an hour ago that I had an urgent affair of honour 
on my hands. It's incredible, but it is so!" 

All was still for a moment. Then in the profound 
evening silence of the countryside the clear, aged voice 
of the Chevalier was heard trembling slightly: "Mon- 
sieur! That's an indignity." 

It was his first thought. The girl born during his 
exile, the posthumous daughter of his poor brother mur- 
dered by a band of Jacobins, had grown since his return 
very dear to his old heart, which had been starving on 
mere memories of affection for so many years. "It is 
an inconceivable thing, I say! A man settles such af- 
fairs before he thinks of asking for a young girl's hand. 
Why! If you had forgotten for ten days longer, you 
would have been married before your memory returned 
to you. In my time men did not forget such things 
nor yet what is due to the feelings of an innocent young 
woman. If I did not respect them myself, I would 
qualify your conduct in a way which you would not 
like." 

General D 'Hubert relieved himself frankly by a 
groan. "Don't let that consideration prevent you. 
You run no risk of offending her mortally." 

But the old man paid no attention to this lover's 
nonsense. It's doubtful whether he even heard. 
"What is it? "he asked. "What's the nature of . . . ?" 



842 THE DUEL 

" Call it a youthful folly, Monsieur le Chevalier. An 
inconceivable, incredible result of . . ." He stopped 
short. "He will never believe the story," he thought. 
"He will only think I am taking him for a fool, and get 
offended." General D'Hubert spoke up again: "Yes, 
originating in youthful folly, it has become . . ." 

The Chevalier interrupted: "Well, then it must be 
arranged." 

"Arranged?" 

" Yes, no matter at what cost to your amour propre. 
You should have remembered you were engaged. You 
forgot that, too, I suppose. And then you go and forget 
your quarrel. It's the most hopeless exhibition of levity 
I ever heard of." 

"Good heavens, Monsieur! You don't imagine I 
have been picking up this quarrel last time I was in 
Paris, or anything of the sort, do you?" 

"Eh! What matters the precise date of your insane 
conduct," exclaimed the Chevalier, testily. "The prin- 
cipal thing is to arrange it." 

Noticing General D'Hubert getting restive and try- 
ing to place a word, the old emigre raised his hand, and 
added with dignity, "I've been a soldier, too. I would 
never dare suggest a doubtful step to the man whose 
name my niece is to bear. I tell you that entre galants 
hommes an affair can always be arranged." 

"But saperlotte, Monsieur le Chevalier, it's fifteen or 
sixteen years ago. I was a lieutenant of hussars then." 

The old Chevalier seemed confounded by the vehe- 
mently despairing tone of this information. "You 
were a lieutenant of hussars sixteen years ago," he mum- 
bled in a dazed manner. 

"Why, yes! You did not suppose I was made a 
general in my cradle like a royal prince." 

In the deepening purple twilight of the fields spread 



THE DUEL 243 

with vine leaves, backed by a low band of sombre crim- 
son in the west, the voice of the old ex-officer in the army 
of the Princes sounded collected, punctiliously civil. 

"Do I dream? Is this a pleasantry? Or am I to 
understand that you have been hatching an affair of 
honour for sixteen years?" 

"It has clung to me for that length of time. That is 
my precise meaning. The quarrel itself is not to be 
explained easily. We met on the ground several times 
during that time, of course." 

"What manners! What horrible perversion of man- 
liness! Nothing can account for such inhumanity but 
the sanguinary madness of the Revolution which has 
tainted a whole generation," mused the returned emigre 
in a low tone. "Who's your adversary?" he asked a 
little louder. 

"My adversary? His name is Feraud." 

Shadowy in his tricorne and old-fashioned clothes, 
like a bowed, thin ghost of the antim regime, the Cheva- 
lier voiced a ghostly memory. "I can remember the 
feud about little Sophie Derval, between Monsieur 
de Brissac, Captain in the Bodyguards, and d'Anjorrant 
(not the pock-marked one, the other the Beau 
d'Anjorrant, as they called him). They met three times 
in eighteen months in a most gallant manner. It was 
the fault of that little Sophie, too, who would keep on 
playing . . ." 

"This is nothing of the kind," interrupted General 
D'Hubert. He laughed a little sardonically. "Not at 
all so simple," he added. "Nor yet half so reasonable," 
he finished, inaudibly, between his teeth, and ground 
them with rage. 

After this sound nothing troubled the silence for a 
long time, till the Chevalier asked, without animation: 
"What is he this Feraud?" 



244 THE DUEL 

"Lieutenant of hussars, too I mean, he's a general. 
A Gascon. Son of a blacksmith, I believe." 

"There! I thought so. That Bonaparte had a 
special predilection for the canaille. I don't mean this 
for you, D'Hubert. You are one of us, though you have 
served this usurper, who . . ." 

"Let's leave him out of this," broke in General D'Hu- 
bert. 

The Chevalier shrugged his peaked shoulders. "Fe- 
raud of sorts. Offspring of a blacksmith and some 
village troll. See what comes of mixing yourself up 
with that sort of people." 

"You have made shoes yourself, Chevalier." 

" Yes. But I am not the son of a shoemaker. Neither 
are you, Monsieur D'Hubert. You and I have some- 
thing that your Bonaparte's princes, dukes, and mar- 
shals have not, because there's no power on earth that 
could give it to them," retorted the emigre, with, the 
rising animation of a man who has got hold of a hopeful 
argument. "Those people don't exist all these Fe- 
rauds. Feraud! What is Feraud? A va-nu-pieds dis- 
guised into a general by a Corsican adventurer mas- 
querading as an emperor. There is no earthly reason 
for a D'Hubert to s'encanailler by a duel with a person 
of that sort. You can make your excuses to him per- 
fectly well. And if the manant takes into his head to 
decline them, you may simply refuse to meet him." 

"You say I may do that?" 

"I do. With the clearest conscience." 

"Monsieur le Chevalier ! To what do you think you 
have returned from your emigration?" 

This was said in such a startling tone that the old 
man raised sharply his bowed head, glimmering silvery 
white under the points of the little tricorne. For a time 
he made no sound. 



THE DUEL 245 

"God knows!" he said at last, pointing with a slow 
and grave gesture at a tall roadside cross mounted on a 
block of stone, and stretching its arms of forged iron all 
black against the darkening red band in the sky "God 
knows ! If it were not for this emblem, which I remem- 
ber seeing on this spot as a child, I would wonder to 
what we who remained faithful to God and our king 
have returned. The very voices of the people have 
changed." 

"Yes, it is a changed France," said General D'Hu- 
bert. He seemed to have regained his calm. His tone 
was slightly ironic. "Therefore I cannot take your 
advice. Besides, how is one to refuse to be bitten by a 
dog that means to bite? It's impracticable. Take my 
word for it Feraud isn't a man to be stayed by apolo- 
gies or refusals. But there are other ways. I could, 
for instance, send a messenger with a word to the briga- 
dier of the gendarmerie in Senlac. He and his two 
friends are liable to arrest on my simple order. It 
would make some talk in the army, both the organized 
and the disbanded especially the disbanded. All 
canaille ! All once upon a time the companions in 
arms of Armand D'Hubert. But what need a D'Hu- 
bert care what people that don't exist may think? Or, 
better still, I might get my brother-in-law to send for 
the mayor of the village and give him a hint. No more 
would be needed to get the three 'brigands' set upon 
with flails and pitchforks and hunted into some nice, 
deep, wet ditch and nobody the wiser! It has been 
done only ten miles from here to three poor devils of the 
disbanded Red Lancers of the Guard going to their 
homes. What says your conscience, Chevalier ? Can 
a D'Hubert do that thing to three men who do not 
exist?" 

A few stars had come out on the blue obscurity, 



246 THE DUEL 

clear as crystal, of the sky. The dry, thin voice of the 
Chevalier spoke harshly: "Why are you telling me all 
this?" 

The General seized the withered old hand with a 
strong grip. "Because I owe you my fullest confidence. 
Who could tell Adele but you? You understand why I 
dare not trust my brother-in-law nor yet my own sister. 
Chevalier ! I have been so near doing these things that 
I tremble yet. You don't know how terrible this duel 
appears to me. And there's no escape from it." 

He murmured after a pause, "It's a fatality," 
dropped the Chevalier's passive halnd, and said in his 
ordinary conversational voice, "I shall have to go with- 
out seconds. If it is my lot to remain on the ground, 
you at least will know all that can be made known of 
this affair." 

The shadowy ghost of the ancien regime seemed to 
have become more bowed during the conversation. 
"How am I to keep an indifferent face this evening 
before these two women?" he groaned. "General! I 
find it very difficult to forgive you." 

General D 'Hubert made no answer. 

"Is your cause good, at least?" 

"I am innocent." 

This time he seized the Chevalier's ghostly arm 
above the elbow, and gave it a mighty squeeze. "I 
must kill him!" he hissed, and opening his hand strode 
away down the road. 

The delicate attentions of his adoring sister had 
secured for the General perfect liberty of movement in 
the house where he was a guest. He had even his own 
entrance through a small door in one corner of the 
orangery. Thus he was not exposed that evening to 
the necessity of dissembling his agitation before the 
calm ignorance of the other inmates. He was glad of 



THE DUEL 247 

it. It seemed to him that if he had to open his lips he 
would break out into horrible and aimless imprecations, 
start breaking furniture, smashing china and glass. 
From the moment he opened the private door and 
while ascending the twenty-eight steps of a winding 
staircase, giving access to the corridor on which his room 
opened, he went through a horrible and humiliating 
scene in which an infuriated madman with blood-shot 
eyes and a foaming mouth played inconceivable havoc 
with everything inanimate that may be found in a well- 
appointed dining-room. When he opened the door of 
his apartment the fit was over, and his bodily fatigue 
was so great that he had to catch at the backs of the 
chairs while crossing the room to reach a low and broad 
divan on which he let himself fall heavily. His moral 
prostration was still greater. That brutality of feeling 
which he had known only when charging the enemy, 
sabre in hand, amazed this man of forty, who did not 
recognize in it the instinctive fury of his menaced 
passion. But in his mental and bodily exhaustion this 
passion got cleared, distilled, refined into a sentiment of 
melancholy despair at having, perhaps, to die before he 
had taught this beautiful girl to love him. 

That night, General D'Hubert stretched out on his 
back with his hands over his eyes, or lying on his breast 
with his face buried in a cushion, made the full pil- 
grimage of emotions. Nauseating disgust at the absur- 
dity of the situation, doubt of his own fitness to conduct 
his existence, and mistrust of his best sentiments (for 
what the devil did he want to go to Fouche for?) he 
knew them all in turn. "I am an idiot, neither more 
nor less," he thought "A sensitive idiot. Because I 
overheard two men talking in a cafe. . . . lam an 
idiot afraid of lies whereas in life it is only truth that 
matters." 



248 THE DUEL 

Several times he got up and, walking in his socks in 
order not to be heard by anybody downstairs, drank all 
the water he could find in the dark. And he tasted the 
torments of jealousy, too. She would marry somebody 
else. His very soul writhed. The tenacity of that 
Feraud, the awful persistence of that imbecile brute, 
came to him with the tremendous force of a relentless 
destiny. General D'Hubert trembled as he put down 
the empty water ewer. " He will have me," he thought. 
General D'Hubert was tasting every emotion that life 
has to give. He had in his dry mouth the faint sickly 
flavour of fear, not the excusable fear before a young 
girl's candid and amused glance, but the fear of death 
and the honourable man's fear of cowardice. 

But if true courage consists in going out to meet an 
odious danger from which our body, soul, and heart 
recoil together, General D'Hubert had the opportunity 
to practise it for the first time in his life. He had 
charged exultingly at batteries and at infantry squares, 
and ridden with messages through a hail of bullets with- 
out thinking anything about it. His business now was 
to sneak out unheard, at break of day, to an obscure 
and revolting death. General D'Hubert never hesi- 
tated. He carried two pistols in a leather bag which he 
slung over his shoulder. Before he had crossed the 
garden his mouth was dry again. He picked two 
oranges. It was only after shutting the gate after him 
that he felt a slight faintness. 

He staggered on, disregarding it, and after going a 
few yards regained the command of his legs. In the 
colourless and pellucid dawn the wood of pines de- 
tached its columns of trunks and its dark green canopy 
very clearly against the rocks of the grey hillside. He 
kept his eyes fixed on it steadily, and sucked at an 
orange as he walked. That temperamental good- 



THE DUEL 249 

humoured coolness in the face of danger which had 
made him an officer liked by his men and appreciated 
by his superiors was gradually asserting itself. It was 
like going into battle. Arriving at the edge of the 
wood he sat down on a boulder, holding the other orange 
in his hand, and reproached himself for coming so 
ridiculously early on the ground. Before very long, 
however, he heard the swishing of bushes, footsteps on 
the hard ground, and the sounds of a disjointed, loud 
conversation. A voice somewhere behind him said 
boastfully, "He's game for my bag." 

He thought to himself, "Here they are. What's this 
about game? Are they talking of me?" And becom- 
ing aware of the other orange in his hand, he thought 
further, "These are very good oranges. Lonie's own 
tree. I may just as well eat this orange now instead of 
flinging it away." 

Emerging from a wilderness of rocks and bushes, 
General Feraud and his seconds discovered General 
D'Hubert engaged in peeling the orange. They stood 
still, waiting till he looked up. Then the seconds 
raised their hats, while General Feraud, putting his 
hands behind his back, walked aside a little way. 

"I am compelled to ask one of you, messieurs, to act 
for me. I have brought no friends. Will you?" 

The one-eyed cuirassier said judicially, "That cannot 
be refused." 

The other veteran remarked, "It's awkward all the 
same." 

"Owing to the state of the people's minds in this 
part of the country there was no one I could trust safely 
with the object of your presence here," explained 
General D'Hubert, urbanely. 

They saluted, looked round, and remarked both 
together: 



850 THE DUEL 

"Poor ground/' 

"It's unfit." 

"Why bother about ground, measurements, and so 
on? Let us simplify matters. Load the two pairs of 
pistols. I will take those of General Feraud, and let 
him take mine. Or, better still, let us take a mixed 
pair. One of each pair. Then let us go into the wood 
and shoot at sight, while you remain outside. We did 
not come here for ceremonies, but for war war to the 
death. Any ground is good enough for that. If I fall, 
you must leave me where I lie and clear out. It 
wouldn't be healthy for you to be found hanging about 
here after that." 

It appeared after a short parley that General Feraud 
was willing to accept these conditions. While the 
seconas were loading the pistols, he could be heard 
whistling, and was seen to rub his hands with perfect 
contentment. He flung off his coat briskly, and 
General D'Hubert took off his own and folded it care- 
fully on a stone. 

"Suppose you take your principal to the other side 
of the wood and let him enter exactly in ten minutes 
from now," suggested General D'Hubert, calmly, but 
feeling as if he were giving directions for his own execu- 
tion. This, however, was his last moment of weakness. 
"Wait. Let us compare watches first." 

He pulled out his own. The officer with the chipped 
nose went over to borrow the watch of General Feraud. 
They bent their heads over them for a time. 

" That's it. At four minutes to six by yours. Seven 
to by mine." 

It was the cuirassier who remained by the side of 
General D'Hubert, keeping his one eye fixed immovably 
on the white face of the watch he held in the palm of 
his hand. He opened his mouth, waiting for the beat 



THE DUEL 251 

of the last second long before he snapped out the word, 
"Avancez" 

General D'Hubert moved on, passing from the glaring 
sunshine of the Provengal morning into the cool and 
aromatic shade of the pines. The ground was clear 
between the reddish trunks, whose multitude, leaning 
at slightly different angles, confused his eye at first. It 
was like going into battle. The commanding quality 
of confidence in himself woke up in his breast. He was 
all to his affair. The problem was how to kill the 
adversary. Nothing short of that would free him 
from this imbecile nightmare. "It's no use wounding 
that brute," thought General D'Hubert. He was 
known as a resourceful officer. His comrades years ago 
used also to call him The Strategist. And it was a fact 
that he could think in the presence of the enemy. 
Whereas Feraud had been always a mere fighter but a 
dead shot, unluckily. 

"I must draw his fire at the greatest possible range," 
said General D'Hubert to himself. 

At that moment he saw something white moving far 
off between the trees the shirt of his adversary. He 
stepped out at once between the trunks, exposing him- 
self freely; then, quick as lightning, leaped back. It 
had been a risky move but it succeeded in its object. 
Almost simultaneously with the pop of a shot a small 
piece of bark chipped off by the bullet stung his ear 
painfully. 

General Feraud, with one shot expended, was getting 
cautious. Peeping round the tree, General D'Hubert 
could not see him at all. This ignorance of the foe's 
whereabouts carried with it a sense of insecurity. 
General D'Hubert felt himself abominably exposed on 
his flank and rear. Again something white fluttered 
in his sight. Ha! The enemy was still on his front, 



852 THE DUEL 

then. He had feared a turning movement. But 
apparently General Feraud was not thinking of it. 
General D'Hubert saw him pass without special haste 
from one tree to another in the straight line of approach. 
With great firmness of mind General D'Hubert stayed 
his hand. Too far yet. He knew he was no marksman. 
His must be a waiting game to kill. 

Wishing to take advantage of the greater thickness 
of the trunk, he sank down to the ground. Extended 
at full length, head on to his enemy, he had his person 
completely protected. Exposing himself would not 
do now, because the other was too near by this time. 
A conviction that Feraud would presently do something 
rash was like bairn to General D'Hubert's soul. But 
to keep his chin raised off the ground was irksome, 
and not much use either. He peeped round, exposing 
a fraction of his head with dread, but really with 
little risk. His enemy, as a matter of fact, did nt>t 
expect to see anything of him so far down as that. 
General D'Hubert caught a fleeting view of General 
Feraud shifting trees again with deliberate cau- 
tion. "He despises my shooting," he thought, dis- 
playing that insight into the mind of his antagonist 
which is of such great help in winning battles. He was 
confirmed in his tactics of immobility. "If I could only 
watch my rear as well as my front!" he thought anx- 
iously, longing for the impossible. 

It required some force of character to lay his pistols 
down; but, on a sudden impulse, General D'Hubert did 
this very gently one on each side of him. In the army 
he had been looked upon as a bit of a dandy because he 
used to shave and put on a clean shirt on the days of 
battle. As a matter of fact, he had always been very 
tareful of his personal appearance. In a man of nearly 
forty, in love with a young and charming girl, this 



THE DUEL 253 

praiseworthy self-respect may run to such little weak- 
nesses as, for instance, being provided with an elegant 
little leather folding-case containing a small ivory 
comb, and fitted with a piece of looking-glass on 
the outside. General D'Hubert, his hands being free, 
felt in his breeches' pockets for that implement of 
innocent vanity excusable in the possessor of long, silky 
moustaches. He drew it out, and then with the ut- 
most coolness and promptitude turned himself over on 
his back. In this new attitude, his head a little raised, 
holding the little looking-glass just clear of his tree, he 
squinted into it with his left eye, while the right kept a 
direct watch on the rear of his position. Thus was 
proved Napoleon's saying, that "for a French soldier, 
the word impossible does not exist." He had the right 
tree nearly filling the field of his little mirror. 

"If he moves from behind it," he reflected with 
satisfaction, "I am bound to see his legs. But in any 
case he can't come upon me unawares." 

And sure enough he saw the boots of General Feraud 
flash in and out, eclipsing for an instant everything else 
reflected in the little mirror. He shifted its position 
accordingly. But having to form his judgment of the 
change from that indirect view he did not realize that 
now his feet and a portion of his legs were in plain sight 
of General Feraud. 

General Feraud had been getting gradually impressed 
by the amazing cleverness with which his enemy was 
keeping cover. He had spotted the right tree with 
bloodthirsty precision. He was absolutely certain of it. 
And yet he had not been able to glimpse as much as 
the tip of an ear. As he had been looking for it at the 
height of about five feet ten inches from the ground it 
was no great wonder but it seemed very wonderful to 
General Feraud. 



254 THE DUEL 

The first view of these feet and legs determined a rush 
of blood to his head. He literally staggered behind 
his tree, and hud to steady himself against it with his 
hand. The other was lying on the ground, then! On 
the ground ! Perfectly still, too ! Exposed ! What could 
it mean? . . . The notion that he had knocked 
over his adversary at the first shot entered then 
General Feratid's head. Once there it grew with 
every second of attentive gazing, overshadowing every 
other supposition irresistible, triumphant, ferocious. 

"What an ass I was to think I could have missed 
him," he muttered to himself. "He was exposed en 
plein the fool! for quite a couple of seconds." 

General Feraud gazed at the motionless limbs, the 
last vestiges of surprise fading before an unbounded 
admiration of his own deadly skill with the pistol. 

"Turned up bis toes! By the god of war, that was 
a shot!" he exulted mentally. "Got it through the 
head, no doubt, just where I aimed, staggered behind 
that tree, rolled over on his back, and died." 

And he stared! He stared, forgetting to move, 
almost awed, almost sorry. But for nothing in the 
world would he have had it undone. Such a shot! 
such a shot! Rolled over on his back and died! 

For it was this helpless position, lying on the back, 
that shouted its direct evidence at General Feraud! 
It never occurred to him that it might have been 
deliberately assumed by a living man. It was in- 
conceivable. It was beyond the range of sane sup- 
position. There was no possibility to guess the reason 
for it. And it must be said, too, that General D'Hu- 
bert's turned-up feet looked thoroughly dead. General 
Feraud expanded his lungs for a stentorian shout to his 
seconds, but, from what he felt to be an excessive 
scrupulousness, refrained for a while. 



THE DUEL 255 

**I will just go and see first whether he breathes 
yet," he mumbled to himself, leaving carelessly the 
shelter of his tree. This move was immediately per- 
ceived by the resourceful General D'Hubert. He 
concluded it to be another shift, but when he lost the 
boots out of the field of the mirror he became uneasy. 
General Feraud had only stepped a little out of the line, 
but his adversary could not possibly have supposed him 
walking up with perfect unconcern. General D'Hubert, 
beginning to wonder at what had become of the other, 
was taken unawares so completely that the first warning 
of danger consisted in the long, early-morning shadow 
of his enemy falling aslant on his outstretched legs. 
He had not even heard a footfall on the soft ground 
between the trees! 

It was too much even for his coolness. He jumped 
up thoughtlessly, leaving the pistols on the ground. The 
irresistible instinct of an average man (unless totally 
paralyzed by discomfiture) would have been to stoop 
for his weapons, exposing himself to the risk of being 
shot down in that position. Instinct, of course, is irre- 
flective. It is its very definition. But it may be an 
inquiry worth pursuing whether in reflective mankind 
the mechanical promptings of instinct are not affected 
by the customary mode of thought. In his young days, 
Armand D'Hubert, the reflective, promising officer, had 
emitted the opinion that in warfare one should "never 
cast back on the lines of a mistake." This idea, de- 
fended and developed in many discussions, had settled 
into one of the stock notions of his brain, had become a 
part of his mental individuality. Whether it had gone 
so inconceivably deep as to affect the dictates of his 
instinct, or simply because, as he himself declared after- 
wards, he was "too scared to remember the confounded 
pistols," the fact is that General D'Hubert never at- 



256 THE DUEL 

tempted to stoop for them. Instead of going back on 
his mistake, he seized the rough trunk with both hands, 
and swung himself behind it with such impetuosity 
that, going right round in the very flash and report of 
the pistol-shot, he reappeared on the other side of the 
tree face to face with General Feraud. This last, com- 
pletely unstrung by such a show of agility on the part 
of a dead man, was trembling yet. A very faint mist of 
smoke hung before his face which had an extraordinary 
aspect, as if the lower jaw had come unhinged. 

"Not missed!" he croaked, hoarsely, from the depths 
of a dry throat. 

This sinister sound loosened the spell that had fallen 
on General D'Hubert's senses. "Yes, missed d bout 
portant," he heard himself saying, almost before he had 
recovered the full command of his faculties. The re- 
vulsion of feeling, was accompanied by a gust of homi- 
cidal fury, resuming in its violence the accumulated 
resentment of a lifetime. For years General D'Hubert 
had been exasperated and humiliated by an atrocious 
absurdity imposed upon him by this man's savage 
caprice. Besides, General D'Hubert had been in this 
last instance too unwilling to confront death for the 
reaction of his anguish not to take the shape of a desire 
to kill. "And I have my two shots to fire yet," he 
added, pitilessly. 

General Feraud snapped-to his teeth, and his face 
assumed an irate, undaunted expression. "Go on!" he 
said, grimly. 

These would have been his last words if General 
D'Hubert had been holding the pistols in his hands. 
But the pistols were lying on the ground at the foot 
of a pine. General D'Hubert had the second of 
leisure necessary to remember that he had dreaded 
death not as a man, but as a lover; not as a danger, but 



THE DUEL 267 

as a rival; not as a foe to life, but as an obstacle to 
marriage. And behold ! there was the rival defeated! 
utterly defeated, crushed, done for! 

He picked up the weapons mechanically, and, instead 
of firing them into General Feraud's breast, he gave 
expression to the thoughts uppermost in his mind, " You 
will fight no more duels now." 

His tone of leisurely, ineffable satisfaction was too 
much for General Feraud's stoicism. " Don't dawdle, 
then, damn you for a cold-blooded staff-coxcomb!" he 
roared out, suddenly, out of an impassive face held erect 
on a rigidly still body. 

General D'Hubert uncocked the pistols carefully. 
This proceeding was observed with mixed feelings by 
the other general. "You missed me twice," the victor 
said, coolly, shifting both pistols to one hand; "the last 
time within a foot or so. By every rule of single com- 
bat your life belongs to me. That does not mean that I 
want to take it now." 

"I have no use for your forbearance," muttered 
General Feraud, gloomily. 

"Allow me to point out that this is no concern of 
mine," said General D'Hubert, whose every word was 
dictated by a consummate delicacy of feeling. In anger 
he could have killed that man, but in cold blood he 
recoiled from humiliating by a show of generosity this 
unreasonable being a fellow-soldier of the Grande 
Armee, a companion in the wonders and terrors of the 
great military epic. "You don't set up the pretension of 
dictating to me what I am to do with what's my own." 

General Feraud looked startled, and the other con- 
tinued, "You've forced me on a point of honour to keep 
my life at your disposal, as it were, for fifteen years. 
Very well. Now that the matter is decided to my ad- 
vantage, I am going to do what I like with your lif* 



258 THE DUEL 

on the same principle. You shall keep it at my dis- 
posal as long as I choose. Neither more nor less. You 
are on your honour till I say the word." 

"I am! But, sacrebleu I This is an absurd position 
for a General of the Empire to be placed in!" cried 
General Feraud, in accents of profound and dismayed 
conviction. "It amounts to sitting all the rest of my 
life with a loaded pistol in a drawer waiting for your 
word. It's it's idiotic; I shall be an object of of 
derision." 

"Absurd? idiotic? Do you think so?" queried 
General D 'Hubert with sly gravity. "Perhaps. But I 
don't see how that can be helped. However, I am not 
likely to talk at large of this adventure. Nobody need 
ever know anything about it. Just as no one to this day, 
I believe, knows the origin of our quarrel. . . . 
Not a word more," he added, hastily. "I can't really 
discuss this question with a man who, as far as I am 
concerned, does not exist." 

When the two duellists came out into the open, Gen- 
eral Feraud walking a little behind, and rather with the 
air of walking in a trance, the two seconds hurried 
towards them, each from his station at the edge of the 
wood. General D'Hubert addressed them, speaking 
loud and distinctly, "Messieurs, I make it a point of 
declaring to you solemnly, in the presence of General 
Feraud, that our difference is at last settled for good. 
You may inform all the world of that fact." 

"A reconciliation, after all!" they exclaimed to- 
gether. 

"Reconciliation? Not that exactly. It is some- 
thing much more binding. Is it not so, General?" 

General Feraud only lowered his head in sign of 
assent. The two veterans looked at each other. Later 
in the day, when they found themselves alone out of 



THE DUEL 259 

their moody friend's earshot, the cuirassier remarked 
suddenly, " Generally speaking, I can see with my one 
eye as far as most people; but this beats me. He won't 
say anything. " 

"In this affair of honour I understand there has been 
from first to last always something that no one in the 
army could quite make out," declared the chasseur with 
the imperfect nose. "In mystery it began, in mystery 
it went on, in mystery it is to end, apparently." 

General D 'Hubert walked home with long, hasty 
strides, by no means uplifted by a sense of triumph. 
He had conquered, yet it did not seem to him that 
he had gained very much by his conquest. The 
night before he had grudged the risk of his life which 
appeared to him magnificent, worthy of preservation as 
an opportunity to win a girl's love. He had known 
moments when, by a marvellous illusion, this love 
seemed to be already his, and his threatened life a still 
more magnificent opportunity of devotion. Now that 
his life was safe it had suddenly lost its special mag- 
nificence. It had acquired instead a specially alarming 
aspect as a snare for the exposure of unworthiness. As 
to the marvellous illusion of conquered love that had 
visited him for a moment in the agitated watches of the 
night, which might have been his last on earth, he com- 
prehended now its true nature. It had been merely 
a paroxysm of delirious conceit. Thus to this man, 
sobbed by the victorious issue of a duel, life appeared 
rcobed of its charm, simply because it was no longer 
menaced. 

Approaching the house from the back, through the 
orchard and the kitchen garden, he could not notice the 
agitation which reigned in front. He never met a single 
soul. Only while walking softly along the corridor, he 
became aware that the house was awake and more 



260 THE DUEL 

noisy than usual. Names of servants were being called 
out down below in a confused noise of coming and going. 
With some concern he noticed that the door of his own 
room stood ajar, though the shutters had not been 
opened yet. He had hoped that his early excursion 
would have passed unperceived. He expected to find 
some servant just gone in; but the sunshine filtering 
through the usual cracks enabled him to see lying on 
the low divan something bulky, which had the appear- 
ance of two women clasped in each other's arms. Tear- 
ful and desolate murmurs issued mysteriously from that 
appearance. General D 'Hubert pulled open the near- 
est pair of shutters violently. One of the women then 
jumped up. It was his sister. She stood for a moment 
with her hair hanging down and her arms raised straight 
up above her head, and then flung herself with a stifled 
cry into his arms. He returned her embrace, trying at 
the same time to disengage himself from it. The other 
woman had not risen. She seemed, on the contrary, to 
cling closer to the divan, hiding her face in the cushions. 
Her hair was also loose; it was admirably fair. Gen- 
eral D'Hubert recognized it with staggering emotion. 
Mademoiselle de Valmassigue! Adele! In distress! 

He became greatly alarmed, and got rid of his sis- 
ter's hug definitely. Madame Leonie then extended 
her shapely bare arm out of her peignoir, pointing 
dramatically at the divan. " This poor, terrified child 
has rushed here from home, on foot, two miles ru. nng 
all the way." 

"What on earth has happened?" asked General 
D'Hubert in a low, agitated voice. 

But Madame Leonie was speaking loudly. "She 
rang the great bell at the gate and roused all the house- 
hold we were all asleep yet. You may imagine what 
a terrible shock. . . . Adele, my dear child, sit up/" 



THE DUEL 261 

General D'Hubert's expression was not that of a 
man who " imagines" with facility. He did, however, 
fish out of the chaos of surmises the notion that his 
prospective mother-in-law had died suddenly, but only 
to dismiss it at once. He could not conceive the nature 
of the event or the catastrophe which would induce 
Mademoiselle de Valmassigue, living in a house full of 
servants, to bring the news over the fields herself, two 
miles, running all the way. 

"But why are you in this room?" he whispered, full 
of awe. 

"Of course, I ran up to see, and this child ... I 
did not notice it ... she followed me. It's that 
absurd Chevalier," went on Madame L6onie, looking 
towards the divan. . . . "Her hair is all come down. 
You may imagine she did not stop to call her maid to 
dress it before she started. . . Adele, my dear, sit 
up. . . . He blurted it all out to her at half-past five 
in the morning. She woke up early and opened her 
shutters to breathe the fresh air, and saw him sitting col- 
lapsed on a garden bench at the end of the great alley. 
At that hour you may imagine! And the evening 
before he had declared himself indisposed. She hurried 
on some clothes and flew down to him. One would be 
anxious for less. He loves her, but not very intelli- 
gently. He had been up all night, fully dressed, the 
poor old man, perfectly exhausted. He wasn't in a 
state to invent a plausible story. . . . What a con- 
fidant you chose there! My husband was furious. He 
said, * We can't interfere now/ So we sat down to wait. 
It was awful. And this poor child running with her 
hair loose over here publicly! She lias been seen by 
some people in the fields. She has roused the whole 
household, too. It's awkward for her. Luckily you 
are to be married next week. . . . Ad&e, sit up. He 



262 THE DUEL 

has come home on his own legs. . . . We expected 
to see you coining on a stretcher, perhaps what do 
I know? Go and see if the carriage is ready. I must 
take this child home at once. It isn't proper for her to 
stay here a minute longer." 

General D'Hubert did not move. It was as though 
he had heard nothing. Madame Leonie changed her 
mind. "I will go and see myself," she cried. "I want 

also my cloak. Adele " she began, but did not add 

' 'sit up." She went out saying, in a very loud and 
cheerful tone: "I leave the door open." 

General D'Hubert made a movement towards the 
divan, but then Adele sat up, and that checked him 
dead. He thought, "I haven't washed this morning. I 
must look like an old tramp. There's earth on the back 
of my coat and pine-needles in my hair." It occurred 
to him that the situation required a good deal of circum- 
spection on his part. 

"I am greatly concerned, mademoiselle," he began, 
vaguely, and abandoned that line. She was sitting up 
on the divan with her cheeks unusually pink and her 
hair, brilliantly fair, falling all over her shoulders 
which was a very novel sight to the general. He walked 
away up the room, and looking out of the window for 
safety said, "I fear you must think I behaved like a 
madman," in accents of sincere despair. Then he spun- 
round, and noticed that she had followed him with 
her eyes. They were not cast down on meeting his 
glance. And the expression of her face was novel to 
him also. It was, one might have said, reversed. 
Those eyes looked at him with grave thoughtful- 
ness, while the exquisite lines of her mouth seemed 
to suggest a restrained smile. This change made her 
transcendental beauty much less mysterious, much more 
accessible to a man's comprehension. An amazing ease 



THE DUEL 263 

of mind came to the general and even some ease oi 
manner. He walked down the room with as much 
pleasurable excitement as he would have found in walk- 
ing up to a battery vomiting death, fire, and smoke; 
then stood looking down with smiling eyes at the girl 
whose marriage with him (next week) had been so 
carefully arranged by the wise, the good, the admirable 
Leonie. 

"Ah! mademoiselle," he said, in a tone of courtly 
regret, "if only I could be certain that you did not 
come here this morning, two miles, running all the way, 
merely from affection for your mother!" 

He waited for an answer imperturbable but inwardly 
elated. It came in a demure murmur, eyelashes low- 
ered with fascinating effect. "You must not be me- 
chant as well as mad." 

And then General D 'Hubert made an aggressive 
movement towards the divan which nothing could 
check. That piece of furniture was not exactly in the 
line of the open door. But Madame Leonie, coming 
back wrapped up in a light cloak and carrying a lace 
shawl on her arm for Adele to hide her incriminating 
hair under, had a swift impression of her brother getting 
up from his knees. 

"Come along, my dear child," she cried from the 
doorway. 

The general, now himself again in the fullest sense, 
showed the readiness of a resourceful cavalry officer and 
the peremptoriness of a leader of men. "You don't 
expect her to walk to the carriage," he said, indignantly. 
"She isn't fit. I shall carry her downstairs." 

This he did slowly, followed by his awed and re- 
spectful sister; but he rushed back like a whirlwind to 
wash off all the signs of the night of anguish and the 
morning of war, and to put on the festive garments of 



264 THE DUEL 

a conqueror before hurrying over to the other house. 
Had it not been for that, General D 'Hubert felt capable 
of mounting a horse and pursuing his late adversary in 
order simply to embrace him from excess of happiness. 
"I owe it all to this stupid brute/' he thought. "He 
has made plain in a morning what might have taken me 
years to find out for I am a timid fool. No self-confi- 
dence whatever. Perfect coward. And the Chevalier! 
Delightful old man!'* General D'Hubert longed to 
embrace him also. 

The Chevalier was in bed. For several days he 
was very unwell. The men of the Empire and the 
post-revolution young ladies were too much for him. 
He got up the day before the wedding, and, being curi- 
ous by nature, took his niece aside for a quiet talk. He 
advised her to find out from her husband the true story 
of the affair of honour, whose claim, so imperative and 
so persistent, had led her to within an ace of tragedy. 
"It is right that his wife should be told. And next 
month or so will be your time to learn from him any- 
thing you want to know, my dear child." 

Later on, when the married couple came on a visit to 
the mother of the bride, Madame la Generale D'Hubert 
communicated to her beloved old uncle the true story 
she had obtained without any difficulty from her hus- 
band. 

The Chevalier listened with deep attention to the 
end, took a pinch of snuff, flicked the grains of tobacco 
from the frilled front of his shirt, and asked, calmly, " And 
that's all it was?" 

"Yes, uncle," replied Madame la Generale, opening 
her pretty eyes very wide. "Isn't it funny? C'est 
insensS to think what men are capable of!" 

"H'm!" commented the old Emigre. "It depends 
what sort of men. That Bonaparte's soldiers wera 



THE DUEL 265 

savages. It is insensS. As a wife, my dear, you must 
believe implicitly what your husband says." 

But to Leonie's husband the Chevalier confided his 
true opinion. "If that's the tale the fellow made up 
for his wife, and during the honeymoon, too, you may 
depend on it that no one will ever know now the secret 
of this affair." 

Considerably later still, General D'Hubert judged 
the time come, and the opportunity propitious to write 
a letter to General Feraud. This letter began by dis- 
claiming all animosity. "I've never," wrote the 
General Baron D'Hubert, "wished for your death dur- 
ing all the time of our deplorable quarrel. Allow me," 
he continued, "to give you back in all form your for- 
feited life. It is proper that we two, who have been 
partners in so much military glory, should be friendly to 
each other publicly." 

The same letter contained also an item of domestic 
information. It was in reference to this last that 
General Feraud answered from a little village on the 
banks of the Garonne, in the following words: 

"If one of your boy's names had been Napoleon or 
Joseph or even Joachim, I could congratulate you on 
the event with a better heart. As you have thought 
proper to give him the names of Charles Henri Armand, 
I am confirmed in my conviction that you never 
loved the Emperor. The thought of that sublime hero 
chained to a rock in the middle of a savage ocean makes 
life of so little value that I would receive with positive 
joy your instructions to blow my brains out. From 
suicide I consider myself in honour debarred. But I 
keep a loaded pistol in my drawer." 

Madame la Gnerale D'Hubert lifted up her hands 
in despair after perusing that answer. 

"You see? He won't be reconciled/ 5 said her bus- 



266 THE DUEL 

band. "He must never, by any chance, be allowed to 
guess where the money comes from. It wouldn't do* 
He couldn't bear it." 

"You are a brave homme, Armand/'said Madame la 
Generale, appreciatively. 

"My dear, I had the right to blow his brains out; 
but as I didn't, we can't let him starve. He has lost 
his pension and he is utterly incapable of doing any- 
thing in the world for himself. We must take care of 
him, secretly, to the end of his days. Don't I owe him 
the most ecstatic moment of my life? . . . Ha! ha! 
ha! Over the fields, two miles, running all the way! 
I couldn't believe my ears! . . . But for his stupid 
ferocity, it would have taken me years to find you out. 
It's extraordinary how in one way or another this man 
has managed to fasten himself on my deeper feelings/' 



A PATHETIC TALE 



IL CONDE 

"Vedi Napoli e poi mori." 

THE first time we got into conversation was in the 
National Museum in Naples, in the rooms on the 
ground floor containing the famous collection of bronzes 
from Herculaneum and Pompeii: that marvellous legacy 
of antique art whose delicate perfection has been pre- 
served for us by the catastrophic fury of a volcano. 

He addressed me first, over the celebrated Resting 
Hermes which we had been looking at side by side. He 
said the right things about that wholly admirable piece. 
Nothing profound. His taste was natural rather than 
cultivated. He had obviously seen many fine things in 
his life and appreciated them: but he had no jargon of a 
dilettante or the connoisseur. A hateful tribe. He 
spoke like a fairly intelligent man of the world, a per- 
fectly unaffected gentleman. 

We had known each other by sight for some few 
days past. Staying in the same hotel good, but not 
extravagantly up to date I had noticed him in the 
vestibule going in and out. I judged he was an old 
and valued client. The bow of the hotel-keeper was 
cordial in its deference, and he acknowledged it with 
familiar courtesy. For the servants he was // Conde. 
There was some squabble over a man's parasol yellow 
silk with white lining sort of thing the waiters had dis- 
covered abandoned outside the dining-room door. Our 
gold-laced door-keeper recognized it and I heard him 

269 



270 IL CONDE 

directing one of the lift boys to run after 77 Conde with 
it. Perhaps he was the only Count staying in the hotel, 
or perhaps he had the distinction of being the Count par 
excellence^ conferred upon him because of his tried 
fidelity to the house. 

Having conversed at the Museo (and by the by he 
had expressed his dislike of the busts and statues of 
Roman emperors in the gallery of marbles : their faces 
were too vigorous, too pronounced for him) having 
conversed already in the morning I did not think I was 
intruding when in the evening, finding the dining-room 
very full, I proposed to share his little table. Judging 
by the quiet urbanity of his consent he did not think so 
either. His smile was very attractive. 

He dined in an evening waistcoat and a "smoking" 
(he called it so) with a black tie. All this of very good 
cut, not new just as these things should be. He was, 
morning or evening, very correct in his dress. I have 
no doubt that his whole existence had been correct, 
well ordered and conventional, undisturbed by startling 
events. His white hair brushed upwards off a lofty 
forehead gave him the air of an idealist, of an 
imaginative man. His white moustache, heavy but 
carefully trimmed and arranged, was not unpleasantly 
tinted a golden yellow in the middle. The faint scent 
of some very good perfume, and of good cigars (that 
last an odour quite remarkable to come upon in Italy) 
reached me across the table. It was in his eyes that 
his age showed most. They were a little weary with 
creased eyelids. He must have been sixty or a couple 
of years more. And he was communicative. I would 
not go so far as to call it garrulous but distinctly 
communicative. 

He had tried various climates, of Abbazia, of the 
Riviera, of other places, too, he told me, but the only 



IL CONDE 871 

one which suited him was the climate of the Gulf of 
Naples. The ancient Romans, who, he pointed out to 
me, were men expert in the art of living, knew very well 
what they were doing when they built their villas on 
these shores, in Baiae, in Vico, in Capri. They came 
down to this seaside in search of health, bringing with 
them their trains of mimes and flute-players to amuse 
their leisure. He thought it extremely probable that the 
Romans of the higher classes were specially predisposed 
to painful rheumatic affections. 

This was the only personal opinion I heard him 
express. It was based on no special erudition. He 
knew no more of the Romans than an average informed 
man of the world is expected to know. He argued from 
personal experience. He had suffered himself from a 
painful and dangerous rheumatic affection till he found 
relief in this particular spot of Southern Europe. 

This was three years ago, and ever since he had 
taken up his quarters on the shores of the gulf, either in 
one of the hotels in Sorrento or hiring a small villa in 
Capri. He had a piano, a few books: picked up transient 
acquaintances of a day, week, or month in the stream of 
travellers from all Europe. One can imagine him going 
out for his walks in the streets and lanes, becoming 
known to beggars, shopkeepers, children, country 
people; talking amiably over the walls to the contadini 
and coming back to his rooms or his villa to sit before 
the piano, with his white hair brushed up and his thick 
orderly moustache, "to make a little music for myself." 
And, of course, for a change there was Naples near by 
life, movement, animation, opera. A little amuse- 
ment, as he said, is necessary for health. Mimes and 
flute-players, in fact. Only unlike the magnates of an- 
cient Rome, he had no affairs of the city to call him 
away from these moderate delights. He had no affairs 



272 IL CONDE 

at all. Probably he had never had any grave affairs to 
attend to in his life. It was a kindly existence, with its 
joys and sorrows regulated by the course of Nature 
marriages, births, deaths ruled by the prescribed 
usages of good society and protected by the State. 

He was a widower; but in the months of July and 
August he ventured to cross the Alps for six weeks on a 
visit to his married daughter. He told me her name. 
It was that of a very aristocratic family. She had a 
castle in Bohemia, I think. This is as near as I ever 
came to ascertaining his nationality. His own name, 
strangely enough, he never mentioned. Perhaps he 
thought I had seen it on the published list. Truth to 
say, I never looked. At any rate, he was a good Eu- 
ropean he spoke four languages to my certain knowl- 
edge and a man of fortune. Not of great fortune 
evidently and appropriately. I imagine that to be ex- 
tremely rich would have appeared to him improper, 
outr6 too blatant altogether. And obviously, too, the 
fortune was not of his making. The making of a for- 
tune cannot be achieved without some roughness. 
It is a matter of temperament. His nature was too 
kindly for strife. In the course of conversation he 
mentioned his estate quite by the way, in reference to 
that painful and alarming rheumatic affection. One 
year, staying incautiously beyond the Alps as late as the 
middle of September, he had been laid up for three 
months in that lonely country house with no one but his 
valet and the caretaking couple to attend to him. 
Because, as he expressed it, he "kept no establishment 
there." He had only gone for a couple of days to con- 
fer with his land agent. He promised himself never to be 
so imprudent in the future* The first weeks of Sep- 
tember would find him on the shores of his beloved 
gulf. 



IL CONDE 273 

Sometimes in travelling one comes upon such lonely 
men, whose only business is to wait for the unavoidable. 
Deaths and marriages have made a solitude round them, 
and one really cannot blame their endeavours to make 
the waiting as easy as possible. As he remarked to me, 
"At my time of life freedom from physical pain is a 
very important matter. 

It must not be imagined that he was a wearisome 
hypochondriac. He was really much too well-bred to 
be a nuisance. He had an eye for the small weaknesses 
of humanity. But it was a good-natured eye. He 
made a restful, easy, pleasant companion for the hours 
between dinner and bedtime. We spent three evenings 
together, and then I had to leave Naples in a hurry to 
look after a friend who had fallen seriously ill in Taor- 
mina. Having nothing to do, II Conde came to see me 
off at the station. I was somewhat upset, and his idle- 
ness was always ready to take a kindly form. He was 
by no means an indolent man. 

He went along the train peering into the carriages 
for a good seat for me, and then remained talking 
cheerily from below. He declared he would miss me 
that evening very much and announced his intention of 
going after dinner to listen to the band in the public 
garden, the Villa Nazionale. He would amuse himself 
by hearing excellent music and looking at the best 
society. There would be a lot of people, as usual. 

I seem to see him yet his raised face with a friendly 
smile under the thick moustaches, and his kind, fatigued 
eyes. As the train began to move, he addressed me in 
two languages: first in French, saying, "Uon voyage"; 
then, in his very good, somewhat emphatic English, 
encouragingly, because he could see my concern: "All 
will be well yet!" 

My friend's illness having taken a decidedly favour- 



IL CONDE 

able turn, I returned to Naples on the tenth day. I 
cannot say I had given much thought to // Conde during 
my absence, but entering the dining-room I looked for 
him in his habitual place. I had an idea he might have 
gone back to Sorrento to his piano and his books and 
his fishing. He was great friends with all the boatmen, 
and fished a good deal with lines from a boat. But I 
made out his white head in the crowd of heads, and even 
from a distance noticed something unusual in his atti- 
tude. Instead of sitting erect, gazing all round with 
alert urbanity, he drooped over his plate. I stood 
opposite him for some time before he looked up, a little 
wildly, if such a strong word can be used in connection 
with his correct appearance. 

"Ah, my dear sir! Is it you?" he greeted me. "I 
hope all is well." 

He was very nice about my friend. Indeed, he was 
always nice, with the niceness of people whose hearts are 
genuinely humane. But this time it cost him an effort. 
His attempts at general conversation broke down into 
dullness. It occurred to me he might have been indis- 
posed. But before I could frame the inquiry he 
muttered : 

"You find me here very sad." 

"I am sorry for that," I said. "You haven't had bad 
news, I hope?" 

It was very kind of me to take an interest. No. It 
was not that. No bad news, thank God. And he 
became very still as if holding his breath. Then, lean- 
ing forward a little, and in an odd tone of awed embar- 
rassment, he took me into his confidence. 

"The truth is that I have had a very a very how 
shall I say? abominable adventure happen to me." 

The energy of the epithet was sufficiently startling in 
that man of moderate feelings and toned-down vocabu- 



IL CONDE 275 

lary. The word unpleasant I should have thought 
would have fitted amply the worst experience likely to 
befall a man of his stamp. And an adventure, too. In- 
credible! But it is in human nature to believe the worst; 
and I confess I eyed him stealthily, wondering what he 
had been up to. In a moment, however, my unworthy 
suspicions vanished. There was a fundamental refine- 
ment of nature about the man which made me dismiss 
all idea of some more or less disreputable scrape. 

"It it very serious. Very serious." He went on, 
nervously. "I will tell you after dinner, if you will 
allow me." 

I expressed my perfect acquiescence by a little bow, 
nothing more. I wished him to understand that I was 
not likely to hold him to that off er, if he thought better 
of it later on. We talked of indifferent things, but with 
a sense of difficulty quite unlike our former easy, gos- 
sipy intercourse. The hand raising a piece of bread to 
his lips, I noticed, trembled slightly. This symptom, 1 
in regard to my reading of the man, was no less than 
startling. 

In the smoking-room he did not hang back at all. 
Directly we had taken our usual seats he leaned side- 
ways over the arm of his chair and looked straight into 
my ejes earnestly. 

"You remember," he began, "that day you went 
away? I told you then I would go to the Villa Nazion- 
ale to hear some music in the evening." 

I remembered. His handsome old face, so fresh for 
his age, unmarked by any trying experience, appeared 
haggard for an instant. It was like the passing of a 
shadow. Returning his steadfast gaze, I took a sip of 
my black coffee. He was systematically minute in his 
narrative, simply in order, I think, not to let his ex- 
citem^nt get the better of him. 



276 IL CONDE 

After leaving the railway station, he had an ice, and 
read the paper in a cafe. Then he went back to the 
hotel, dressed for dinner, and dined with a good appetite. 
After dinner he lingered in the hall (there were chairs 
and tables there) smoking his cigar; talked to the 
little girl of the Primo Tenore of the San Carlo the- 
atre, and exchanged a few words with that "ami- 
able lady," the wife of the Primo Tenore. There was 
no performance that evening, and these people were 
going to the Villa also. They went out of the hotel. 
Very well. 

At the moment of following their example it was 
half-past nine already he remembered he had a rather 
large sum of money in his pocket-book. He entered, 
therefore, the office and deposited the greater part of it 
with the book-keeper of the hotel. This done, he took 
a carozella and drove to the seashore. He got out of the 
cab and entered the Villa on foot from the Largo di 
Vittoria end. 

He stared at me very hard. And I understood then 
how really impressionable he was. Every small fact and 
event of that evening stood out in his memory as if 
endowed with mystic significance. If he did not mention 
to me the colour of the pony which drew the carozella, 
and the aspect of the man who drove, it was a mere 
oversight arising from his agitation, which he repressed 
manfully. 

He had then entered the Villa Nazionale from the 
Largo di Vittoria end. The Villa Nazionale is a public 
pleasure-ground laid out in grass plots, bushes, and 
flower-beds between the houses of the Riviera di Chiaja 
and the waters of the bay. Alleys of trees, more or less 
parallel, stretch its whole length which is considerable. 
On the Riviera di Chiaja side the electric tramcars run 
close to the railings. Between the garden and the sea is 



IL CONDE 277 

the fashionable drive, a broad road bordered by a low 
wall, beyond which the Mediterranean splashes with 
gentle murmurs when the weather is fine. 

As life goes on late at night in Naples, the broad 
drive was all astir with a brilliant swarm of carriage 
lamps moving in pairs, some creeping slowly, others 
running rapidly under the thin, motionless line of electric 
lamps defining the shore. And a brilliant swarm 
of stars hung above the land humming with voices, 
piled up with houses, glittering with lights and over 
the silent flat shadows of the sea. 

The gardens themselves are not very well lit. Our 
friend went forward in the warm gloom, his eyes 
fixed upon a distant luminous region extending nearly 
across the whole width of the Villa, as if the air had 
glowed there with its own cold, bluish, and dazzling 
light. This magic spot, behind the black trunks of trees 
and masses of inky foliage, breathed out sweet sounds 
mingled with bursts of brassy roar, sudden clashes of 
metal, and grave, vibrating thuds. 

As he walked on, all these noises combined together 
in to a piece of elaborate music whose harmonious phrases 
came persuasively through a great disorderly murmur of 
voices and shuffling of feet on the gravel of that open 
space. An enormous crowd immersed in the electric 
light, as if in a bath of some radiant and tenuous fluid 
shed upon their heads by luminous globes, drifted in its 
hundreds round the band. Hundreds more sat on chairs 
in more or less concentric circles, receiving unflinchingly 
the great waves of sonority that ebbed out into the dark- 
ness. The Count penetrated the throng, drifted with it 
in tranquil enjoyment, listening and looking at the 
faces. All people of good society: mothers with their 
daughters, parents and children, young men and young 
women all talking, smiling, nodding to each other. Very 



278 IL CONDE 

many pretty faces, and very many pretty toilettes. 
There was, of course, a quantity of diverse types: showy 
old fellows with white moustaches, fat men, thin 
men, officers in uniform; but what predominated, he 
told me, was the South Italian type of young man, 
with a colourless, clear complexion, red lips, jet-black 
little moustache and liquid black eyes so wonderfully 
effective in leering or scowling. 

Withdrawing from the throng, the Count shared a 
little table in front of the caf6 with a young man of just 
such a type. Our friend had some lemonade. The 
young man was sitting moodily before an empty glass. 
He looked up once, and then looked down again. He 
also tilted his hat forward. Like this 

The Count made the gesture of a man pulling his 
hat down over his brow, and went on: 

"I think to myself: he is sad; something is wrong 
with him; young men have their troubles. I take no 
notice of him, of course. I pay for my lemonade, and 
go away." 

Strolling about in the neighbourhood of the band, 
the Count thinks he saw twice that young man wander- 
ing alone in the crowd. Once their eyes met. It must 
have been the same young man, but there were so many 
there of that type that he could not be certain. More- 
over, he was not very much concerned except in so far 
that he had been struck by the marked, peevish discon- 
tent of that face. 

Presently, tired of the feeling of confinement one ex- 
periences in a crowd, the Count edged away from the 
band. An alley, very sombre by contrast, presented 
itself invitingly with its promise of solitude and coolness. 
He entered it, walking slowly on till the sound of the 
orchestra became distinctly deadened. Then he walked 
back and turned about once more. He did this several 



IL CONDE 279 

times before he noticed that there was somebody oc- 
cupying one of the benches. 

The spot being midway between two lamp-posts the 
light was faint. 

The man lolled back in the corner of the seat, his 
legs stretched out, his arms folded and his head drooping 
on his breast. He never stirred, as though he had fallen 
asleep there, but when the Count passed by next time he 
had changed his attitude. He sat leaning forward. His 
elbows were propped on his knees, and his hands were 
rolling a cigarette. He never looked up from that 
occupation. 

The Count continued his stroll away from the band. 
He returned slowly, he said. I can imagine him 
enjoying to the full, but with his usual tranquillity, the 
balminess of this southern night and the sounds of music 
softened delightfully by the distance. 

Presently, he approached for the third time the man 
on the garden seat, still leaning forward with his elbows 
on his knees. It was a dejected pose. In the semi- 
obscurity of the alley his high shirt collar and his cuffs 
made small patches of vivid whiteness. The Count 
said that he had noticed him getting up brusquely as 
if to walk away, but almost before he was aware of 
it the man stood before him asking in a low, gentle tone 
whether the signore would have the kindness to oblige 
him with a light. 

The Count answered this request by a polite " Cer- 
tainly," and dropped his hands with the intention of 
exploring both pockets of his trousers for the matches. 

"I dropped my hands," he said, "but I never put 
them in my pockets. I felt a pressure there " 

He put the tip of his linger on a spot close under his 
breastbone, the very spot of the human body where a 
Japanese gentleman begins the operations of the Hara- 



280 IL CONDE 

kiri, which is a form of suicide following upon dishonour, 
upon an intolerable outrage to the delicacy of one's 
feelings. 

66 1 glance down," the Count continued in an awe- 
struck voice, "and what do I see? A knife! A long 
knife " 

"You don't mean to say/' I exclaimed, amazed, 
"that you have been held up like this in the Villa at 
half-past ten o'clock, within a stone's throw of a thou- 
sand people!" 

He nodded several times, staring at me with all his 
might. 

"The clarionet," he declared, solemnly, " was finishing 
his solo, and I assure you I could hear every note. Then 
the band crashed fortissimo, and that creature rolled 
its eyes and gnashed its teeth hissing at me with the 
greatest ferocity, 'Be silent! No noise or '" 

I could not get over my astonishment. * 

"What sort of knife was it?" I asked, stupidly. 

"A long blade. A stiletto perhaps a kitchen knife. 
A long narrow blade. It gleamed. And his eyes 
gleamed. His white teeth, too. I could see them. 
He was very ferocious. I thought to myself: 'If I hit 
him he will kill me.' How could I fight with him? 
He had the knife and I had nothing. I am nearly 
seventy, you know, and that was a young man. I 
seemed even to recognize him. The rnoody young man 
of the cafe. The young man I met in the crowd. But 
I could not tell. There are so many like him in this 
country." 

The distress of that moment was reflected in his face. 
I should think that physically he must have been 
paralyzed by surprise. His thoughts, however, re- 
mained extremely active. They ranged over every alarm- 
ing possibility. The idea of setting up a vigorous shout* 



IL CONDE 281 

ing for help occurred to him, too. But he did nothing of 
the kind, and the reason why he refrained gave me a 
good opinion of his mental self-possession. He saw in a 
flash that nothing prevented the other from shouting, 
too. 

"That young man might in an instant have thrown 
away his knife and pretended I was the aggressor. Why 
not? He might have said I attacked him. Why not? 
It was one incredible story against another! He might 
have said anything bring some dishonouring charge 
against me what do I know? By his dress he was no 
common robber. He seemed to belong to the better 
classes. What could I say? He was an Italian I am 
a foreigner. Of course, I have my passport, and there 
is our consul but to be arrested, dragged at night to 
the police office like a criminal!" 

He shuddered. It was in his character to shrink 
from scandal, much more than from mere death. And 
certainly for many people this would have always re- 
mained considering certain peculiarities of Neapolitan 
manners a deucedly queer story. The Count was no 
fool. His belief in the respectable placidity of life 
having received this rude shock, he thought that now 
anything might happen. But also a notion came into 
his head that this young man was perhaps merely an 
infuriated lunatic. 

This was for me the first hint of his attitude towards 
this adventure. In his exaggerated delicacy of senti- 
ment he felt that nobody's self-esteem need be affected 
by what a madman may choose to do to one. It be- 
came apparent, however, that the Count was to be 
denied that consolation. He enlarged upon the abom- 
inably savage way in which that young man rolled his 
glistening eyes and gnashed his white teeth. The band 
was going now through a slow movement of solemn 



282 IL CONDE 

braying by all the trombones, with deliberately re- 
peated bangs of the big drum. 

"But what did you do?" I asked, greatly excited. 

"Nothing," answered the Count. "I let my hands 
hang down very still. 1 told him quietly I did not 
intend making a noise. He snarled like a dog, then said 
in an ordinary voiee: 

"'Vostro portofolio.'" 

"So I naturally," continued the Count and from 
this point acted the whole thing in pantomime. Hold- 
ing me with his eyes, he went through all the motions 
of reaching into his inside breast pocket, taking out a 
pocket-book, and handing it over. But that young man, 
still bearing steadily on the knife, refused to touch it. 

He directed the Count to take the money out him- 
self, received it into his left hand, motioned the pocket- 
book to be returned to the pocket, all this being done to 
the sweet thrilling of flutes and clarionets sustained by 
the emotional drone of the hautboys. And the "young 
man," as the Count called him, said: "This seems very 
little." 

"It was, indeed, only 340 or 360 lire," the Count 
pursued. "I had left rny money in the hotel, as you 
know. I told him this was all I had on me. He shook 
his head impatiently and said: 

"'Vostro orologio." 9 

The Count gave me the dumb show of pulling out 
his watch, detaching it. But, as it happened, the valu- 
able gold half -chronometer he possessed had been left 
at a watch-maker's for cleaning. He wore that evening 
(on a leather guard) the Waterbury fifty-franc thing he 
used to take with him on his fishing expeditions. Per- 
ceiving the nature of this booty, the well-dressed robber 
made a contemptuous clicking sound with his tongue 
like this, " Tse-Ah ! " and waved it away hastily. Then, 



IL CONDE 283 

as the Count was returning the disdained object to his 
pocket, he demanded with a threateningly increased 
pressure of the knife on the epigastrium, by way of re- 
minder: 

" Vostri anelli." 

"One of the rings," went on the Count, "was given 
me many years ago by my wife; the other is the signet 
ring of my father. I said, 'No. That you shall not 
have!'" 

Here the Count reproduced the gesture corresponding 
to that declaration by clapping one hand upon the 
other, and pressing both thus against his chest. It 
was touching in its resignation. "That you shall not 
have," he repeated, firmly, and closed his eyes, fully 
expecting I don't know whether I am right in record- 
ing that such an unpleasant word had passed his lips 
fully expecting to feel himself being I really hesitate 
to say being disembowelled by the push of the long, 
sharp blade resting murderously against the pit of 
his stomach the very seat, in all human beings, of 
anguishing sensations. 

Great waves of harmony went on flowing from the 
band. 

Suddenly the Count felt the nightmarish pressure 
removed from the sensitive spot. He opened his eyes. 
He was alone. He had heard nothing. It is probable 
that "the young man" had departed, with light steps, 
some time before, but the sense of the horrid pressure 
had lingered even after the knife had gone. A feeling 
of weakness came over him. He had just time to 
stagger to the garden seat. He felt as though he had 
held his breath for a long time. He sat all in a heap, 
panting with the shock of the reaction. 

The band was executing, with immense bravura, the 
complicated finale. It ended with a tremendous crash. 



284 IL CONDE 

He heard it unreal and remote, as if his ears had been 
stopped, and then the hard clapping of a thousand, 
more or less, pairs of hands, like a sudden hail-shower 
passing away. The profound silence which succeeded 
recalled him to himself. 

A tramcar resembling a long glass box wherein people 
sat with their heads strongly lighted, ran along swiftly 
within sixty yards of the spot where he had been robbed. 
Then another rustled by, and yet another going the 
other way. The audience about the band had broken 
up, and were entering the alley in small conversing 
groups. The Count sat up straight and tried to think 
calmly of what had happened to him. The vileness of 
it took his breath away again. As far as I can make 
it out he was disgusted with himself. I do not mean 
to say with his behaviour. Indeed, if his pantomimic 
rendering of it for my information was to be trusted, it 
was simply perfect. No, it was not that. He was not 
ashamed. He was shocked at being the selected victim, 
not of robbery so much as of contempt. His tranquillity 
had been wantonly desecrated. His lifelong, kindly 
nicety of outlook had been defaced. 

Nevertheless, at that stage, before the iron had time 
to sink deep, he was able to argue himself into com- 
parative equanimity. As his agitation calmed down 
somewhat, he became aware that he was frightfully 
hungry. Yes, hungry. The sheer emotion had made 
him simply ravenous. He left the seat and, after walk- 
ing for some time, found himself outside the gardens 
and before an arrested tramcar, without knowing very 
well how he came there. He got in as if in a dream, by 
a sort of instinct. Fortunately he found in his trouser 
pocket a copper to satisfy the conductor. Then the car 
stopped, ana as everybody was getting out he got out, 
too. He recognized the Piazza San Ferdinando, but 



IL CONDE 285 

apparently it did not occur to him to take a cab and 
drive to the hotel. He remained in distress on the 
Piazza like a lost dog, thinking vaguely of the best way 
of getting something to eat at once. 

Suddenly he remembered his twenty-franc piece. 
He explained to me that he had that piece of French 
gold for something like three years. He used to carry 
it about with him as a sort of reserve in case of ac- 
cident. Anybody is liable to have his pocket picked 
a quite different thing from a brazen and insulting 
robbery. 

The monumental arch of the Galleria Umberto faced 
him at the top of a noble flight of stairs. He climbed 
these without loss of lime, and directed his steps towards 
the Cafe TTmberto. All the tables outside were occupied 
by a lot of people who were drinking. But as he wanted 
something to eat, he went inside into the cafe, which is 
divided into aisles by square pillars set all round viitii 
long looking-glasses. The Count sat down on a red 
plush bench against one of these pillars, waiting for 
his risotto. And his mind reverted to his abominable 
adventure. 

lie thought of the moody, well-dressed young man, 
with whom he had exchanged glances in the crowd 
around the bandstand, and who, he felt confident, was 
the robber. Would he recognize him again? Doubt- 
less. But he did not want ever to see him again. The 
best thing was to forget this humiliating episode. 

The Count looked round anxiously for the coming of 
his risotto, and, behold! lo the left against the wall 
there sat the young man. He was alone at a table, with 
a bottle of some sort of wine or syrup and a carafe of 
iced water before him. The smooth olive cheeks, the 
rod lips, the little jet-black moustache turned up gal- 
lantly, the fine black eyes a little heavy and shaded 



286 IL CONDE 

by long eyelashes, that peculiar expression of cruel dis- 
content to be seen only in the busts of some Roman 
emperors it was he, no doubt at all. But that was a 
type. The Count looked away hastily. The young 
officer over there reading a paper was like that, too. 
Same type. Two young men farther away playing 
draughts also resembled 

The Count lowered his head with the fear in his heart 
of being everlastingly haunted by the vision of that 
young man. He began to eat his risotto. Presently 
he heard the young man on his left call the waiter in a 
bad-tempered tone. 

At the call, not only his own waiter, but two other 
idle waiters belonging to a quite different row of tables, 
rushed towards him with obsequious alacrity, which is 
not the general characteristic of the waiters in the Cafe 
Umberto. The young man muttered something and 
one of the waiters walking rapidly to the nearest door 
called out into the Galleria: "Pasquale! O! Pas- 
quale !" 

Everybody knows Pasquale, the shabby old fellow 
who, shuffling between the tables, offers for sale cigars, 
cigarettes, picture postcards, and matches to the clients 
of the cafe. He is in many respects an engaging 
scoundrel. The Count saw the grey-haired, unshaven 
ruffian enter the cafe, the glass case hanging from his 
neck by a leather strap, and, at a word from the waiter, 
make his shuffling way with a sudden spurt to the young 
man's table. The young man was in need of a cigar 
with which Pasquale served him fawningly. The old 
pedlar was going out, when the Count, on a sudden 
impulse, beckoned to him. 

Pasquale approached, the smile of deferential recog- 
nition combining oddly with the cynical searching ex- 
pression of his eyes. Leaning his case on the table, he 



IL CONDE 287 

lifted the glass lid without a word. The Count took a 
box of cigarettes and urged by a fearful curiosity, asked 
as casually as he could 

"Tell me, Pasquale, who is that young signore sitting 
over there?" 

The other bent over his box confidentially. 

"That, SignorConde"he said, beginning to rearrange 
his wares busily and without looking up, "that is a 
young Cavaliere of a very good family from Bari. He 
studies in the University here, and is the chief, capo, of 
an association of young men of very nice young men." 

He paused, and then, with mingled discretion and 
pride of knowledge, murmured the explanatory word 
"Camorra" and shut down the lid. "A very powerful 
Camorra," he breathed out. "The professors them- 
selves respect it greatly . . . una lira e cinquanti 
centesimi, Signor Conde." 

Our friend paid with the gold piece. While Pasquale 
was making up the change, he observed that the young 
man, of whom he had heard so much in a few words, 
was watching the transaction covertly. After the 
old vagabond had withdrawn with a bow, the Count 
settled with the waiter and sat still. A numbness, he 
told me, had come over him. 

The young man paid, too, got up, and crossed over, 
apparently for the purpose of looking at himself in the 
mirror set in the pillar nearest to the Count's seat. He 
was dressed all in black with a dark green bow tie. 
The Count looked round, and was startled by meeting 
a vicious glance out of the corners of the other's eyes. 
The young Cavaliere from Bari (according to Pasquale; 
but Pasquale is, of course, an accomplished liar) went 
on arranging his tie, settling his hat before the glass, 
and meantime he spoke just loud enough to be heard 
by the Count. He spoke through his teeth with the 



288 IL CONDE 

most insulting venom of contempt and gazing straight 
into the mirror. 

"Ah! So you had some gold on you you old liar 
you old birbayou furfante ! But you are not done 
with me yet/' 

The fiendishness of his expression vanished like light- 
ning, and he lounged out of the cafe with a moody, 
impassive face. 

The poor Count, after telling me this last episode, 
fell back trembling in his chair. His forehead broke 
into perspiration. There was a wanton insolence in 
the spirit of this outrage which appalled even me. 
What it was to the Count's delicacy 1 won't attempt to 
guess. I am sure that if he had been not too refined 
to do such a blatantly vulgar thing as dying from 
apoplexy in a cafe, he would have had a fatal stroke 
there and then. All irony apart, niy difficulty was to 
keep him from seeing the full extent of my commisera- 
tion. He shrank from every excessive sentiment, and 
my commiseration was practically unbounded. It did 
not surprise me to hear that he had been in bed a week. 
He had got up to make his arrangements for leaving 
Southern Italy for good and all. 

And the man was convinced that he could not live 
through a whole year in any other climate ! 

No argument of mine had any effect. It was not 
timidity, though he did say to me once: "You do not 
know what a Camorra is, my dear sir. I am a marked 
man." He was not afraid of what could be done to 
him. His delicate conception of his dignity was defiled 
by a degrading experience. He couldn't stand that. 
No Japanese gentleman, outraged in his exaggerated 
sense of honour, could have gone about his preparations 
for Hara-kiri with greater resolution. To go home 
really amounted to suicide for the poor Count. 



IL CONDE 289 

There is a saying of Neapolitan patriotism, intended 
for the information of foreigners, I presume: "See 
Naples and then die." Vedi Napoli e poi mori. It is a 
saying of excessive vanity, and everything excessive 
was abhorrent to the nice moderation of the poor Count. 
Yet, as I was seeing him off at the railway station, I 
thought he was behaving with singular fidelity to its 
conceited spirit. Vedi Napoli / . . . He had seen 
it! He had seen it with startling thoroughness and 
now he was going to his grave. He was going to it by 
the train de luxe of the International Sleeping Car Com- 
pany, via Trieste and Vienna. As the four long, sombre 
coaches pulled out of the station I raised my hat with 
the solemn feeling of paying the last tribute of respect 
to a funeral cortege. II Conde's profile, much aged al- 
ready, glided away from me in stony immobility, behind 
the lighted pane of glass Vedi Napoli e poi mori I 



THE END